A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dolphin Tale 2 continues the story of Winter (introduced in 2011's Dolphin Tale), the beloved rescue dolphin that uses a prosthetic tale to swim. The story is family friendly and uplifting overall, but some scenes might be mildly upsetting to younger viewers. For example, Winter becomes antisocial -- and even violent -- after her surrogate mother dies. There are also a few tense rescue scenes and some touching goodbyes, but that's about it, other than some mild flirting between teens Sawyer and Hazel. The sequel isn’t quite as compelling as the original, but it’s just as wholesome and inspiring.
What's the story?
Following the events depicted in Dolphin Tale, DOLPHIN TALE 2 continues the story of Winter, a rescued dolphin with a prosthetic tale. Winter is devastated by the loss of her surrogate mother, leaving the staff at Clearwater Marine Hospital -- headed by Dr. Clay Haskett (Harry Connick Jr) -- in a race against time (and against an evil USDA employee) to find her a companion. Meanwhile, Sawyer (Nathan Gamble), the boy who originally found Winter and nursed her to health, must decide whether to accept a once-in-lifetime opportunity or stay in Florida to help Winter.
Is it any good?
The plot of Dolphin Tale 2 isn't much of a stretch beyond the original. This time, instead of trying to get Winter a prosthetic fin, the incredibly nice staff of the Clearwater Marine Hospital are trying to find her a companion. Everyone is as sweet and earnest as in the original, with just one goal in mind: to help the marine animals.
Fans of the first movie will enjoy watching Sawyer become an opinionated teen alongside friend/love interest Hazel (Cozi Zuehlsdorff). Connick Jr. is back as Hazel’s dad, along with Ashley Judd as Sawyer's mom, who has very little to do other than look concerned. There are some daring rescues (and a release back into the wild) that will keep parents interested. And for kids, there's a bit of teen angst thrown in -- Sawyer is now in high school, and when he's offered the chance to spend a semester at sea doing marine research, he has to decide whether or not to take it because Winter, his dolphin buddy, isn't well. While the story isn't quite as good as the original, it's still an upbeat, inspirational family movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Dolphin Tale 2's messages. How do they compare to the original? Is Winter's story as compelling as it was in the first film?
Sawyer is offered an amazing opportunity but is hesitant to leave Winter when she needs him most. What would you do in that situation?
What did you think of the scene in which Bethany Hamilton, the pro surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack, swims with Winter, the dolphin who lost her tale and swims with a prosthetic? Were you inspired by them?
Dr. Haskett had a terrible decision to make: set a rehabilitated dolphin free, or keep it so Winter could stay at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Do you think he made the right decision?
- In theaters: September 12, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: December 9, 2014
- Cast: Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Harry Connick Jr., Nathan Gamble
- Director: Charles Martin Smith
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Friendship, Ocean creatures, Wild animals
- Run time: 107 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some mild thematic elements
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.