Amazing Kids! Magazine

Amazing Movie Review: Dolphin Tale

By Perry S. Chen


(4 out of 5 starfish)

If you met a dolphin who has lost its tail and is in critical condition, what would you do? In Dolphin Tale, based on an incredible true story, Sawyer Nelson, a quiet and reclusive boy discovers a stranded dolphin one day while biking to school. He cuts the dolphin free from the entangling ropes of a crab trap with his Swiss army knife his cousin gave him. Clearwater Marine Hospital takes the dolphin, but Sawyer is worried about its injured tail. He sneaks into the hospital to see the dolphin, but just before Dr. Clay (Harry Connick Jr.), the head of the hospital, tells him to leave. The dolphin starts moving for the first time since she got there. The dolphin responds to Sawyer, so he is allowed to stay and soon befriends Dr. Clay and his daughter Hazel. Sawyer soon develops a strong devotion for the dolphin, who is given the name Winter.

Winter’s tail gets worse and has to be amputated. She teaches herself how swim like a fish, but the irregular motion of swimming would eventually damage her spine. Meanwhile, Sawyer is having his own problems at home. His mother (Ashley Judd) was mad at him for skipping school to see Winter, and Sawyer was depressed because his cousin Kyle from the army broke his leg on the battlefield. Kyle went to an army hospital, where he got Sawyer connected with a prosthetics doctor, Dr. McCarthy (Morgan Freeman) who treated his leg and hopefully could do something for Winter.  Sawyer had to take a leap of faith that could change the lives of Winter and himself forever.  Watch the trailer:

One of the funniest scenes in the film is when the prosthetics doctor is buying parts for Winter’s tail.  When the prosthetic store seller asked Dr. McCarthy who the patient was, Dr. McCarthy showed him a picture of Winter, and the seller’s face froze.

I would give this film 4 starfish. The acting of the cast is outstanding, especially Sawyer and Morgan Freeman’s (Dr. McCarthy).  Freeman really captured the essence of the sympathetic, corky, humorous doctor who really cares about his patients, humans or dolphin.  I think the visual and sound effects of this film are amazing. The music really represents the mood of the film, and the storyline was very intriguing. Stories involving children and animals are often very appealing to a family audience. I like how Winter helped Sawyer, a shy and lonely boy come out of his shell of isolation and became a boy of compassion and dedication who inspired all. The true story of Winter is on

There are a few flaws in this film, though. Sawyer’s mom was almost instantly convinced and agreed to go see Winter. I know from my experiences with my mom (Don’t tell her) that it would take a lot more pleading and negotiating before she would even think about going into an unfamiliar place with a bunch of strangers, but I guess that Sawyer’s mom would be curious as to what her son was interested in.  I think it is unrealistic to have Sawyer miss a whole week of school before his mom learned about it. Also I think that the filmmakers overused the mischievous pelican that lived on the aquarium roof. The first few times when he ate Hazel’s fish or chased Sawyer’s Mother were funny, but he appeared a bit too often. After the 3rd time, the pelican gags lost their humor.

Overall, the film is “Perrific!” and shows Winter as a symbol of hope for the handicapped people of the world. My mom and I really enjoyed the film. Mom cried many times during the film.  We are glad that Winter survived to tell her wonderful tail tale of perseverance and bravery!

Moral: Life is full of challenges, but when you overcome them, you can make the impossible possible!

Copyright 2011 by Perry S. Chen


Perry S. Chen is an 11-year-old award-winning film critic, artist, entertainment personality, filmmaker and animator. He writes movie reviews for San Diego Union Tribune, Animation World Network, Amazing Kids!, and his own website Perry’s Previews ( His first animation short “Ingrid Pitt: Beyond the Forest” about a young Holocaust survivor has been acquired for worldwide distribution by Shorts International, distributor of Oscar-nominated shorts. Connect with him on Facebook: