You might think that there is no reason to have a sequel to the warm-hearted original installment of 2011’s “Dolphin Tale” a family-friendly movie depiction of the rescued dolphin with the prosthetic fin (“Winter”). But lo and behold, his real-life story continued when he was forced to bond with another much smaller bottleneck, named “Hope” and voila! Disney couldn’t resist the opportunity to get the cast and crew back again.
While “Dolphin Tale 2” has the same sweet intentions as the first film and is as gentle as a family film gets (something in this day and age worth cherishing for those merits alone) this sequel also feels overly hokey and less authentic. Perhaps because we’ve travelled over this same territory only a few years ago, every emotion and plot development is as predictable as a Florida forecast of sunshine (The film is shot on location at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium west of Tampa).
The young actors reprising their original roles Nathan Gamble as Sawyer and Cozi Zuehlsdorff as Haley are simply not as cute as they were before (not their fault) and by being given supervisory responsibilities at the aquarium, over older employees no less, the script tries a little too hard to remind us how much smarter they are than everyone else. And while the kids talk smart, there is a bit of a condescending tone to the script – where some good old fashioned science might have been more effective.
Still, there is nothing quite as beautiful or moving as a dolphin gliding through the water and there are some scenes especially where the kids swim with the dolphins that are breathtaking. Harry Connick Jr. is back, of course, as the passionate Aquarium manager Dr. Clay Haskett—an even-keeled father of Haley who learns how to be a little more trusting.
Stay for the end credits which reveal some actual news footage of the events depicted in “Dolphin Tale 2” and include some other facts about the story that could have been covered and made the film more interesting. Parents need more films that offer a quiet reassurance to their kids, with kids being depicted as smart and self-assured, so the intentions here are worthwhile. A better script would have done wonders for the film’s admirable but lackluster storytelling.