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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dolphin Kick is a live-action adventure about siblings Skyler (Tyler Jade Nixon) and Luke (Axle McCoy), who befriend a solo dolphin named Echo and try to reunite him with a pod. There are suspenseful moments in which both Echo and the kids are threatened by angry fishermen; the climax involves a physical fight between two men and a scene in which the villains attempt to kill Echo with a spear. The film is best suited for kids who are comfortable with real vs. pretend scares, as the scenes of Echo in danger may be disturbing for some. But the movie is filled with positive messages about family harmony and dealing with grief, as well as humans' responsibility to nature's creatures. You can also expect lots of relevant information about dolphins and their way of life.
What's the story?
Skyler (Tyler Jade Nixon) and Luke (Axle McCoy) are still recovering from the death of their mom in DOLPHIN KICK. Their dad, Clint (Travis McCoy), who also misses his wife terribly, decides that a healing vacation may be just the thing for the family, especially for Luke, who was once a competitive swimmer but is now terrified of going into the water. A tropical island turns out to be everything the family hoped for and more. Especially when Luke strikes up an important friendship with Echo, a dolphin who's been separated from his pod. Guided by a group of marine biology students working on the island, the kids learn that although Echo seems delightfully happy, the playful animal must be reunited with a pod. Individual dolphins simply can't survive on their own. Complicating their efforts to return Echo to a pod is Naz (DeVaughn Gow), a stressed-out fisherman with anger issues who realizes that it's the dolphin who's been ruining his traps.
Is it any good?
Wonderful shots of a dolphin frolicking in tropical seas and making heartwarming connections with kids, as well as some nice family moments, are the reasons to see this sincere but unpolished film. Everyone involved gives it their best, and it appears to be a family affair with lots of overlap among the performers and production folks. The filmmaking team pays attention to family-friendly details -- reminding us to avoid littering, wear sunscreen, ensure boat safety. Plus, there's a genuine effort to impart solid information about the habitat and behavior of the planet's most intelligent sea mammal. So, though it may not be the most artful of movies -- with uneven performances and a script in which the "conflict" feels forced and often arbitrary -- Dolphin Kick should please folks who like a feel-good movie and love watching beautiful creatures fill the screen with their antics.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how often family movies rely on a recently deceased parent to heighten the emotion of a story. How does it make the storyteller's job easier to have such major upheaval in a kid's life? Can you think of other issues or events in kids' lives that might make stories just as critical without having to resort to a parent's death? How did the events in Dolphin Kick help heal the family?
What is the meaning of the term "montage" as it applies to filmmaking? Can you identify at least one of several montages in this movie? How did Dolphin Kick use the technique to build the story's momentum?
Are you aware of the precautions and protections that are currently in place for animals engaged in films? Find out more about the history of safeguarding animals in movie sets. Can audiences always be sure that the statement "no animals were harmed in the making of this film" is true?
- On DVD or streaming: January 22, 2019
- Cast: Tyler Jade Nixon, Axle McCoy, Travis McCoy
- Director: Philip Marlatt
- Studio: Epic Pictures Releasing
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Ocean Creatures, Science and Nature
- Character strengths: Communication, Compassion
- Run time: 89 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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