*Thanks you Emily Morgenstern & Fandango Family for the tickets to an early showing of Dolphin Tale 2 and for quite the VIP treatment. The tickets were not given in exchange for a review, but thought this was a film a lot of you may consider seeing. . .so I wrote up a little discussion guide.
A sequel to a true story. . . which is another true story. I don’t think that has ever been done before in the movies.
The first “Dolphin Tale” told the story of finding Winter, the female dophin who was caught in a crab trap and lost her tail. It was a sweet, clean, wonderful movie. And all the parents will thrilled to have a decent movie option for our kiddos.
Weren’t we all thrilled when we heard “Dolphin Tale 2” was coming out?
This movie takes place several years later and tells more of Winter’s story. A story of loosing her paired dolphin and the search for another companion. Here is a quick synopsis from IMDb.
Overall this is a wonderful movie. It’s clean (no potty humor, bad words, sexuality). There are great life lessons and topics to discuss afterward. I would say a very young child (2-3yrs old) may struggle to be entertained throughout the whole movie. But for ages 3-100 this is a winner. (I will let you know my 9 year old was not interested in seeing the movie. . .so you may need to evaluate whether you see it on a child-by-child basis).
**Spoiler Alert** I feel like moms want to know what topics will be addressed in a movie they are about to expose their kids. Given that fact, there are a few spoilers in this review. So if you are the type of mom who wants to be surprised, you may want to read this review after you see the movie.
1. Death & Grief:
Early in the movie Winter’s paired dolphin, the elderly Panama, dies (Did you know dolphins must live in pairs in order to be held in captivity?).
For a young/sensitive child, there is a scene that shows the dolphin lying on the bottom of the pool. Not too graphic but just thought you should know.
For a large portion of the movie, Winter is grieving and even at one point gets aggressive towards Sawyer in the midst of her grief (an intense scene for young kids).
Conversation starters: If you’ve never discussed death with your children, this may be a good place to introduce the topic. We’ve had pets pass away and had the conversations. Those conversations helped when my grandmother died.
You could also talk about the process of grieving. When we love someone and they are gone we feel their absence. It causes us to stop wanting to do “normal” things. But grief has lots of stages and healing does happen over time (point out Winter’s healing).
**Even Jesus grieves over death. Shortest verse in the Bible, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35), occurs when he visits his friends Mary & Martha, right after their brother and his good friend, Lazarus dies.
2. Amputation & Prosthetics:
Bethany Hamilton, “Soul Surfer”, has a cameo appearance in the movie. (two times; once at the beginning and once near the end).
My oldest son actually didn’t want to see the movie because he saw a preview where she swims with the dolphin. He was nervous he would see her get her arm bitten off (side note: this son is my super sweet sympathetic/sensitive/highly imaginative child and the idea of someone going through that kind of pain was too much for him).
My five year old covered his eyes when she was on screen. But after the movie we had an interesting conversation about amputation and prosthetics. Particularly because in the movie, Hope (the young dolphin) freaks out when she meets Winter and senses that her tail is “different”.
Conversation starters: We talked about how do we respond when people (and dolphins) look different? How do prosthetics help the person and those around them? (Winter–helped swim more naturally and prevent damage to spine. Humans–walk, write, eat). I also shared a little more of Bethany’s story and her incredible faith and perseverance in the midst of tragedy.
3. Possibility & Change:
Throughout the movie Sawyer is contemplating taking an opportunity that will move him away from Winter & his family (comfort).
It takes a gift & accompanying lesson from Dr. McCarthy (Morgan Freeman) to help Sawyer realize life is not meant to be “lived in a box”. Perhaps shaking things up and trying new things helps keep us going.
Conversation Starters: Share a story with your kids about when you moved or took a new job or how you chose your college. . .a story where you were thankful you made a change. Talk to them about the phrase: “Life is full of possibilities”. Ask them what dreams they have and what they would like to do as adults.
**God has plans for each of us. Plans to bring Him glory. Those plans may include a change in circumstances. (Jeremiah 29:11)
4. Growth & Responsibility:
Since this movie takes place 4 years after the first one, the lil kids in the first movie are now teenagers. You can see from the beginning of the movie these kids are more adult-like, taking on lots of responsibility at the aquarium.
In a culture of prolonged adolescence (childhood innocence robbed and adults acting like children), I appreciated a movie which painted the picture of the transition from adolescence to adulthood.
There are several scenes where the “kids” in the movie appropriately ask to take on more decision-making.
There’s a weak attempt at suggesting a little more than “friendship” is going on between Sawyer and Hazel, but no kissing.
Conversation Starter: Talk with your kids about what responsibilities that could take on a home. What things are they are already responsible for? (a pet, the trash, their room).
5. Winter & Hope:
A lot of the marketing for this movie is centered around the arrive of Hope, the baby dolphin. But I’ll tell you that scene doesn’t take place until near the end of the movie.
The movie makers did a great job portraying the despair and tension leading up to her arrival. You keep waiting & hoping. . .for Hope.
So when she comes on screen, it was worth the wait. We all love dolphins. And baby ones? Stop it. So cute.
(I did learn later that, they used CG to create a tiny version of the now adult-sized dolphin. The baby you see is actually “Hope” but shrunken to the size of when they found her).
Conversation Starters: Talk with your kiddos about the word, “hope”. When did you have time where you were sad and needed to hope in something. Even talk about how at the end of the Winter season, we hope for spring. Distinguish between the phrase, “I hope it rains” and “hope in the Lord”. Here is a wonderful verse you could memorize together:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
**Bonus conversation: Loyalty in friendship between the funny pelican and turtle.
Price (age 7): “See it. I don’t have a favorite part. I liked the movie. My favorite character was the pelican. Some parts I was bored, but some parts there was a lot of action. Tell them to watch out for the girl’s arm cut-off.”
Watts (age 5): “See it. My favorite part was when the dolphins jumped up together. I think the part is so funny when the girl sprayed the turtle with water. I liked the turtle the best.”
Let me know when you see the movie and any topics you would add to the guide.
**For additional movie discussion guides, click here.