Movie review: Will Dolphin Tale make a splash with you?

Sep 23, 2011 at 2:00 a.m. ET

“Mom, can we get a pool?” Maybe you’ve heard that one before. But what about, “Mom, can we get a dolphin tank?” Watch out, moms, because if you take your kids to see Dolphin Tale this weekend, they might come out of the movies asking that very question.

The heart-warming family film Dolphin Tale is the story of a boy who finds a passion for life when he befriends a dolphin with a damaged tail.

Dolphin Tale

The film is about healing. It's about love. It's about family. That said, Dolphin Tale doesn't start off like other family films. The main character, Sawyer, is a loner. His father left several years ago, and he's suffering from a lack of confidence and general interest in the world around him.

Dolphin Tale

He likes video games and tinkering with electronics in the shed, but he doesn't like people, let alone animals. That's when one fateful day on his way to school, Sawyer comes across a dolphin trapped in a fisherman's rope. After attempting to save the animal, the two develop a special bond.

Soon after, the aquarium hospital crew arrives and whisks the animal away. That doesn't matter, however, because Sawyer and Winter -- the name given to the dolphin -- are on the path to recovery and need the emotional support of each other in order to survive.

Inspired by a true story, this adaptation takes liberties with the emotional journey the boy and this community makes as they fall in love with this fish, as Morgan Freeman's character calls her.

Morgan Freeman

Freeman plays Dr. McCarthy, the only man who can decode the mechanics behind what it takes to make a prosthetic tail for an underwater mammal such as this. Quirky, blunt and offering comic relief when the film most needs it, Freeman is the best part of this film.

Morgan Freeman shows environmental passion in Dolphin Tale >>

Harry Connick Jr. plays the aquarium's chief scientist, and Ashley Judd plays Sawyer's mom. They serve as guides to Sawyer's journey of self discovery.

Dolphin Tale

The performance by Nathan Gamble as Sawyer is well played. The child actor goes through a remarkable transformation, from quiet, timid boy to confident young man who asks questions, fights back and knows exactly how to be a hero for what he believes in.

Top 10 films

The same kid who was afraid to play at the pool at the beginning of the movie is on stage giving a speech on the waterfront by the end. It's a beautiful performance by the young actor who carries this film fade in to fade out.

Dolphin Tale is definitely worth the green for your weekend trip to the movies. Moms, dads, kids and anyone who loves animals, electronics and skipping summer school will enjoy this film about family, hope and happiness.

The bond Sawyer creates with Winter is so intense it will have audiences wondering where they too can find a connection like that. Which leads me back to the question at hand. How can I get a dolphin tank in my backyard?