Dolphin Tale [Blu-Ray] Charles Martin Smith

Dolphin Tale [Blu-Ray] Charles Martin Smith
It's nice that 2011 brought us not just one, but two family films about overcoming the obstacle of amputation, whether physical or emotional. The first being Soul Surfer, a somewhat sanctimonious and syrupy sweet Christian allegory about Bethany Hamilton, the one-armed surfer girl from Hawaii, while the latter, Dolphin Tale, takes a less pious approach to the material, detailing the relationship between a socially struggling boy and a dolphin that has lost its tail. Both films are based on true stories, giving some ersatz clout to the purported American idealizing of human kindness and strength of will. And while this loose assertion of a partially adjacent reality legitimizes these stories of never giving up, the overwhelming milk of human kindness present throughout, wherein every person has only the best of intentions, partially unravels the intensity, making these struggles too fantastical to genuinely identify with. Fortunately, Dolphin Tale presents its characters with slightly more sincerity, making young Sawyer (Nathan Gamble) somewhat of an introvert who freezes in unfamiliar social situations. Smartly, his relationship with his mother (Ashley Judd) is where he reveals most of his personality and idiosyncrasies, having the highest level of comfort on the home front. And as much as this is the story of an injured dolphin's battle against losing its tail ― learning how to swim a different way and then adapting to a prosthetic tail made by a surly Morgan Freeman ― the main obstacle is that of finding individual purpose and some sort of passion in life in the face of inevitable disappointment. Since this is handled with some caution and intelligence, despite the fact that Gamble vacillates between his true-to-life, flamboyant personality and the intended meek persona on the page, Dolphin Tale proves a much easier pill to swallow than the occasionally laughable Surfer Girl. It also helps that some restraint is shown on the cliché front, never forcing single parents Ashley Judd and Harry Connick Jr. into a contrived romance, despite their availability. The message is of individual identity rather than reliance on others, which is far more profound than one might expect from such a heart-warming film. Included with the Blu-Ray are an abundance of supplements on the real-life dolphin, Winter, as well as some animations about a pig and a cookie jar, and some brief interviews with the cast. There's also a gag reel and a DVD copy of the film, rounding out a decent home entertainment package. (Warner)