Overview: Winter, the dolphin, begins to have problems when her surrogate mother dies. 2014. Alcon Entertainment; Rated PG; 107 minutes
Heart: I could not wait to get back to write this review, banking on a bunch of dumb jokes I had been thinking up. Then, during the last three minutes of Dolphin Tale 2, my heart sank. Director Charles Martin Smith (Dolphin Tale, Air Bud), decided to include actual footage of children visiting the aquarium. Had he not, this movie wouldn’t be worth anything. Those last few moments stand alone; they are what life is about. But I can’t help but think that this was a manipulative move to tug on viewers’ heartstrings in an otherwise not-so-great movie…and it worked.
A Lack of Heart: The actual movie opened and finished a corny mess. It fed off one liners delivered by actors who seemed to care about little more than the paycheck a sequel brings. Morgan Freeman (Dr. Cameron McCarthy) was the butt of it all. He appeared on screen at the most inopportune moment to drop every cliched, quick hitting joke you can imagine, just in time for Nathan Gamble (Sawyer) to deliver a perplexed look. But the biggest debacle is Harry Connick Jr. (Dr. Clay Haskett) who decided to do the complete opposite of acting. He was supposed to play the voice of reason, the father figure teaching life lessons, but he ended up little more than an awkward dad lacking in authenticity. Also, one last thing on the acting, Cozi Zuehllsdorff (Hazell Haskett) cried the entire movie.
Teaching: Most movies directed at the younger demographic choose to discreetly convey life lessons and inspirational teachings (think The Lion King or basically any Disney production). Dolphin Tale 2 chooses to take these lessons and hurl them at our faces. There is no subtle approach; they are blunt and heavy-handed. This lazy method conveys a lack of care for the over-all product. If it had been handled properly, it could have easily inspired audiences rather than insult them.
Overall: This film is a mess. From the script to the acting, it is a wreck that simply neglects what makes children’s movies great. This isn’t even worth a watch. There is no heart here. Between the horrible acting and poor dialogue, nothing about this movie worked. It is clear that this sequel planned to ride off the success of the first film, focusing more on the final paycheck than creating a worthwhile story. The only redeeming factor is found in the final few moments with the bonus real-life footage. I am angry that this touching footage was wasted on such a carelessly made film.