A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this lackluster family drama includes scenes in which the main character, a 14-year-old girl, smokes a joint and later appears to pass out from drinking. On the up side, her interactions with the dolphins, nature, and her father prompt a profound, positive change in her outlook and behavior. While older tweens and teens may enjoy the movie -- especially the scenes with the dolphins -- younger viewers may be bogged down by the drama between Alyssa and her father and between him and the town council.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
EYE OF THE DOLPHIN explores what happens when a troubled 14-year-old girl finds out that her father, whom she long suspected was dead, is actually alive; and what happens when that father learns he has a child. A year after she saw her mom die, Los Angeles teen Alyssa (Carly Schroeder) skips classes and smokes pot in the school bathroom, no longer caring about anything, including herself. Hoping to give the girl a fresh start, Alyssa's grandmother (Katharine Ross) ships her off to live with Hawk (Adrian Dunbar), her father, who studies dolphins in the Bahamas. But the road is rutted with doubt and suspicion; Alyssa doesn't know how to trust anyone anymore, and Hawk has to learn to be a father. He's also fighting a losing battle to keep his dolphin research going. Luckily, that struggle is one Alyssa's willing to join, as she soon discovers she has a special bond with dolphins.
Is it any good?
This heartfelt family drama has good intentions but ultimately falls short. The gorgeous Bahamian landscape is well-served by director of photography Guy Livnet. It's rendered in saturated colors, the perfect paradise to soothe Alyssa's unsettled soul. But the action takes a while to pick up, and though the slow pacing might be intentional -- perhaps it's a nod to languid Bahamian life? -- it lacks ample tension for a story with built-in conflicts. It's not until father and daughter finally face off that Eye of the Dolphin finally gets in the swim of things (barely).
On the plus side, Schroeder is inspired as Alyssa, a lost child looking for mooring (she won a Best Child Actor award at the International Family Film Festival). But in the end, the film ultimately stumbles from slack pacing, clichéd setups, and lackluster dialogue.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why Alyssa was so troubled. Why did she act the way she did, particularly drinking and taking drugs? What were the consequences of those actions? What might have happened if she hadn't found her dad and the dolphins? Families can also discuss the fact that lots of movies portray animals as soothing creatures that bring peace to troubled souls. Why? Do you think that's true? What is it about animals that brings joy to humans? And what do humans give them in return?
- In theaters: August 24, 2007
- On DVD or streaming: January 8, 2008
- Cast: Adrian Dunbar, Carly Schroeder, Katharine Ross
- Director: Michael Sellers
- Studio: Monterey Media
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 96 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some substance abuse involving a young teen.
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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