Fact: this is the only review of Dolphin Tale 2 you’re going to read that finds similarities between Carice van Houten’s breasts and Kris Kristofferson (actually, the only review anywhere) so if you’re offended by such things it’s best to skip the rest of this paragraph. Van Houten has expressed a penchant for nudity whether it be narratively essential or no (even in the rutfest that is Game of Thrones it can be gratuitous). But Kris Kristofferson’s appearance in this sequel to the 2011 minor hit is as equally unnecessary. He turns up at the pool, says something, and then he’s up on a mezzanine (shot from way back), says something. Freeman is the same, returning to cash a cheque before strolling on.
But despite all the cheque-cashers on show (Connick Jnr., as aquarium manager, and Judd, as the concerned mum, just about earn their corn), the Dolphin Tale series conjures up the requisite drama. Doubling up as writer and director this time out Charles Martin Smith (probably best known as the accountant in The Untouchables) turns the aquarium into a dramatic sandbox: nothing exists outside as far as the characters are concerned and they pull the audience into their world. Basically, his film is about whether or not two dolphins get on and it’s testament to Smith’s writing that he makes that engaging.
Having helped fit dolphin Winter with an artificial fin designed by Morgan Freeman’s eccentric, Sawyer (Gamble) is all ready for college - he’s even been granted a scholarship to the top marine school. However, when Winter gets depressed and rules state that a male must be paired with a female, time is ticking before the aquarium finds an adequate partner before Winter is shipped elsewhere. Meanwhile Rufus the pelican is up to his old tricks (only old if you can remember what happened first time out, which is not without difficulty).
So hesitant to not upset its target audience, Dolphin Tale 2 keeps things nice ‘n easy throughout – one scene has what looks like a shiver of sharks fast approaching a newly released dolphin only for everyone to realise it’s a pod of dolphins. Phew. Hooray. The teen romance between the ambitious Hazel (Cozi Zuehlsdorff) and Sawyer is kept decidedly cute. What it doesn’t mind doing is shedding a tear. Breaking a child’s heart is fine, it seems. There are waterworks from the beginning but one must catch up on the first instalment to fully experience the emotional impact.