October 28, 2011
This is a nice little inspirational movie that had a relentlessly positive message, and an exuberant talented cast (led by Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, and Harry Connick, Jr.) to boot. While the title and the poster already tells you what to expect, the movie actually had a multi- layered plot, all of these sub-stories drive home the same positive message of hope and redemption in the face of adversity.
The main story of course is that of Winter, a young dolphin whose tail got caught and seriously injured in a crab trap. Sawyer, a young boy with school and father issues, grows very attached to this dolphin that he saved. When Winter's tail was eventually amputated, Sawyer sought the help of the prosthetics expert at the veteran's hospital to come up with a prosthetic tail so the dolphin could swim normally again.
To thicken this simple and straightforward main plot, the script gave us several supporting stories. We get the story of Sawyer's older cousin Kyle, the very marine hospital itself, as well as the very community of Clearwater, Florida -- all of whom get into some problem which threatens to destroy them. We get to witness how these "broken" people had the will to rise above their difficulties and move on with their lives.
There was of course no surprises anymore how this will end. However, the story telling was engaging without being too pushy or cheesy with its message. The kid actors were very natural and not annoying, especially the young man who played Sawyer, Nathan Gamble. I think it is a very good family film where important lessons about life can be learned by all. Once in a while it is quite refreshing to watch a happy positive film so reinforce the belief that not all hope is lost in this seemingly sad and cruel world of ours.