For parents of younger kids, quality family films are a precious commodity.
Watching a good family movie can be crazy fun—children's laughter is virulently contagious. And since kids like to watch their favorite movies over and over, parents will eventually be watching those movies over and over, too. I've seen the various Pixar movies hundreds of times now, and have no complaints.
Watching a bad kids' movie, on the other hand, can cause the kind of existential despair where minutes drag into hours. And god help you if your kids like that bad movie, because you're going to be revisiting this despair for a long while. I'm looking at you, Smurfs.
DOLPHIN TALE 2, sequel to the critically and commercially successful 2011 film, is not exactly a terrible family movie, but it's not the sort of thing you want on heavy rotation in the living room in three months. In the spirit of consumer advocacy and parental solidarity, I must advise against it.
Based very loosely on actual events,Dolphin Tale 2continues the story of the bottlenose dolphin Winter and the admirable work of animal rescue workers at Florida's Clearwater Marine Aquarium. When Winter lost her tail to a crab trap in 2005, the facility worked with scientists to create a prosthetic tail that allowed Winter to swim again. It's a nice little story.
Unfortunately, the first movie already told it, and the sequel has virtually nothing to add. There's a plot in here somewhere about a new baby dolphin named Hope and some abiding family drama among us land mammals. But the material is way too thin for a feature film. This is a 20-minute aquarium video stretched into a 113-minute commercial endeavor.
That said, kids who are into cute animals will certainly be entranced by the underwater footage and lovable critters. The filmmakers have helpfully padded the running time with side stories about a sea turtle and a pelican. Meanwhile, Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman and Harry Connick, Jr. reprise their roles, joining our now-teenage heroes Sawyer (Nathan Gamble) and Hazel (Cozi Zuehlsdorff).
Look, when you've got kids, sometimes you have to take a bullet for the team. Thanks to parenthood, I have a pretty good working knowledge of both little ponies and monster trucks. But life's too short—and the family movie market too crowded—for the likes ofDolphin Tale 2.
Happily, my 6-year-old girl forgot about the movie the instant we hit the parking lot. Maybe yours will, too. But why take the chance?
This article appeared in print with the headline "Mammal trammels."