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Movie Review

Dolphin Tale 2

MPAA Rating: PG for some mild thematic elements.

Reviewed by: Gary L. Parsons—first time reviewer

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids Teens Family Adults
Family Drama Sequel
1 hr. 47 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
September 12, 2014 (wide—3,656 theaters)
DVD: December 9, 2014
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures

importance of companionship

God-honoring compassion



determination / don’t give up


prosthetic body part (prosthesis)

animal rescue shelter

animals in the Bible

EARTH’S ENVIRONMENT—Should Christians be concerned about the environment? Answer

What is man’s responsibility to the environment? Answer

Kid Explorers
Adventures in the rainforest! Learn about the Creator of the universe by exploring His marvelous creation. Fun for the whole family with games, activities, stories, answers to children’s questions, color pages, and more! One of the Web’s first and most popular Christian Web sites for children. Nonprofit, evangelical, nondenominational.
Featuring: Ashley JuddLorraine Nelson
Morgan FreemanDr. Cameron McCarthy
Nathan Gamble … Sawyer Nelson
Cozi Zuehlsdorff … Hazel Haskett
Harry Connick Jr.Dr. Clay Haskett
Kris KristoffersonReed Haskett
Bethany Hamilton … Herself
more »
Director: Charles Martin Smith—“Dolphin Tale” (2011)
Producer: Alcon Entertainment
Boxing Cat Films
Color Force
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

“Winter’s amazing true story… now has Hope.”

Prequel: “Dolphin Tale” (2011)

“Dolphin Tale 2” is one of those increasingly rare creatures, a good clean family film. A sequel to the 2011 original, director (and Disney actor) Charles Martin Smith returned the whole cast to great effect.

The main plot revolves around Winter, the stranded and injured star of the first movie. Basically, Winter’s tank companion, an elderly dolphin named Panama, dies. Winter’s reactions, and their effect on the people around them, occupy the main story line.

There are a few smaller plots as well. The human stars rescue a sea turtle that is entangled in fishing line (the ecological lesson for the movie). The turtle gets a relationship with an overly friendly pelican. Another dolphin is rescued and rehabilitated. The male lead, Sawyer, has to decide whether to stay in Clearwater or go for a free Sea Academy semester.

This is a typical, old style family film. Yes, you will have scenes of drama, sadness and suspense. Relax. This one ends in a very Disney-esque manner.

Parents will especially appreciate the very mature and respectful way in which the adults and teens talk to each other (as well as the mature topics the discuss). The adults also interact in a kind and, well, “adult” manner.

Decision-making is a major theme in the movie. Stay with Winter or go to Sea academy? Release the healthy rescued dolphin or keep it as Winter’s companion? The handicapped are prominently, sympathetically and respectfully featured. We have a dolphin with no tail and an aquarium visitor with an artificial leg. We have a few cameos by one armed Christian activist and surfer Bethany Hamilton.

The film does not end after the plots are concluded. The real ending is a mini-documentary featuring the actual rescues portrayed in the film. The Clearwater aquarium is real. Winter is real, and is still on display.

This is a thoroughly good movie and possibly a must see for kids and families. It has absolutely no: violence, explosions, car chases, bad language or sex. If you don’t see it in the theaters, you may catch it on cable or Netflix. It should be a warm and happy experience for everyone.

Violence: None / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—My wife and daughters dragged me along to this movie. I went in thinking “what can this show me that the other one didn’t?”, and the answer was “a lot.” Why is Bethany Hamilton (“Soul Surfer”) interested in a cameo or two for this movie? The Clearwater Marine Aquarium (Winter) and Bethany Hamilton speak powerfully to those who have lost a limb—they have a profound compassion.

This movie wasn’t explosions or robots, but it was about compassion in its many forms. Just as Jesus was characterized by compassion (Matt 9:36, Spurgeon) and God the Father is characterized by compassion (Ex. 34:6-7), the movie is a great example of what actual compassion looks like. It is foreign to us, because, through its politicization, compassion has largely been lost to mainstream American culture. From how friends handle each others’ wounds, to how to love an animal who has acted out and physically wounded you, compassion is not lectured—it is role modeled in this film.

I am glad I saw it. I am glad my family went. I am glad my daughter wants to be a cetacean biologist. We are going to buy the DVD and watch it a dozen dozen times. Each time they watch it, my children will be seeing and rehearsing what genuine compassion, God-honoring compassion, looks like in practice.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Michael Munroe, age 40 (USA)
Positive—“Dolphin Tale 2” is such a welcome change from the filth that usually comes out of Hollywood. There was no inappropriate language, violence or anything else inappropriate in this movie. The message was a good one of respect and love for family, friends and the rest of creation. Parents can feel very comfortable letting their children see “Dolphin Tale 2.”
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Austin, age 27 (USA)
Positive—We enjoyed this sequel. My daughter really enjoyed it. It was very funny and also serious. The care they took for these animals was great. The underwater scenes were great, showing the dolphin’s point of view.

As a mother, I enjoyed the relationship the parents had with their kids who were more grown up than they realized and that good communication was key to their relationship. It was so nice to take my daughter to a movie that held her attention and didn’t frighten her.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Lauri, age 57 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—It was a great family movie—very clean.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Noah Olivier, age 12 (USA)
Movie Critics

…DOLPHIN TALE 2 has a strong moral worldview. …emphasizes hope, companionship, family, commitment, responsibility, and loyalty. The entire family will be able to see this movie because it’s refreshingly wholesome. …
—Ted Baehr, Movieguide

…as clean as a freshly scrubbed tank, as wholesome as Hazel’s freckle-faced smile, as sweet as Winter would find a pail full of herring—without there being a single red one in the batch.
—Paul Asay, Plugged in

…Earnest and educational …mostly an easy, breezy ride that will please younger audiences and their parents with its message of resilience and hope. [3/4]
—Bruce DeMara, Toronto Star Newspapers

…Even more so than last time out, [director] Smith focuses a great deal of attention on the details—the day-to-day minutiae of the facility’s rescue and rehab work that elevate what could have otherwise been another well-intentioned but soggy fish-out-of-water yarn. … [2½/4]
—Michael Rechtshaffen, The Hollywood Reporter

…The pacing is sluggish, the storytelling predictable. Compared to the original, it’s pretty inferior in the inspiration department, too. …
—Christa Banister, Crosswalk

…“Dolphin Tale 2” is a frolic in the shallow end…
—Joe Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

…It’s all so quaint to the point of being anachronistic… the first half proves to be remarkably joyless when compared to the corny but effective charms of its predecessor. …
—William Goss, The Austin Chronicle

…Critter outshines humans… Bland and predictable, but the wildlife antics and mild suspense will entertain very young viewers. [2/4]
—Rafer Guzmán, Long Island Newsday

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