Dolphin Tale movie poster Dolphin Tale is another family-friendly movie from the makers of Blind Side. It brings discussion of tragedy, mythology, and following a path.

Spoiler-free review

If you’re looking for well-produced entertainment that is appropriate for your whole family, then Dolphin Tale will be a great choice! It comes from the same producers as Blind Side. There wasn’t even a single profanity, that I caught.

Unlike Free Willy or similar movies, Dolphin Tale contains only a little mythology. The rest is just a story inspired by real events of the dolphin Winter. As Hollywood does, most of the characters are representations or completely fictional.

This isn’t an action-packed movie. But it will make you smile as you see the lessons Sawyer learns as he tries to save a dolphin.

The rest of the recorded episode and these shownotes contain spoilers.

Dealing with tragedy

Dolphin Tale is about recovering from tragedy. Despite the fact that the dolphin Winter was harmed from a crab cage, the trade is not negatively viewed.

Sawyer’s cousin Kyle was added to the story in order to represent the people with disabilities who could be inspired by Winter’s story. “Look, mommy. She’s just like me,” as one girl put it.

Dolphins and mythology

We know that dolphins are quite intelligent mammals. Perhaps even the most intelligent animal by our measurements. “Some people think they’re smarter than we are.” But God placed man at the height of His creation and it is us with whom He communicates the most.

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” [Genesis 1:26–28, NASB]

Although not a core point in Dolphin Tale, some Native American mythology is retold while explaining dolphins. The Chumash Indians have a tale of Hutash (or “Earth Mother”) and the Rainbow Bridge. Reading a more expanded Chumash myth reveals interesting correlations with Scripture. But also many glaring differences in who God is and how He acts.

While Dr. Clay (Harry Connick Jr.) explains how Winter is moving after her injury, he refers to how dolphins were “designed.” Yes! On day five, in fact.

Then God said, “Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.” God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” There was evening and there was morning, a fifth day. [Genesis 1:20–23, NASB]

Knowing the right path

Choosing to devote so much effort to saving a dolphin is quite expensive and risky. It’s easy to question whether the effort would’ve been better placed helping people, even though God commanded us to care for His creation (Genesis 1:28).

When Dr. Clay is debating how much he can do for Winter, Dr. Clay’s father says, “Just because you don’t know the where star doesn’t mean you have the wrong star.” (I may not have the exact wording correct.)

This idea is a little troubling. Using navigational stars as metaphors for direction in life is common. But this phrase could make it sound like we should keep on in any direction we feel like, even if we don’t know where we came from or where we’re going.

The steps of a man are established by the LORD,
And He delights in his way.
When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong,
Because the LORD is the One who holds his hand.
I have been young and now I am old,
Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
Or his descendants begging bread.
All day long he is gracious and lends,
And his descendants are a blessing.
[Psalm 37:23–26, NASB]

Other thoughts

  • We see how important it is for kids to be engaged in their education.
  • Sawyer’s new friend, Hazel, says she’s homeschooled and that is never viewed negatively.
  • Sawyer’s mom (played by Ashley Judd) is happy to see Sawyer “turned on … by something that’s not a Gameboy.”
  • Sawyer’s parents are divorced and his dad is completely absent.
  • Hazel “prays” to her dead mom.

Share your feedback!

What did you think of Dolphin Tale? Even if just your reactions to the trailer or the topics I shared in this episode. Or what general critical-thinking and entertainment thoughts or questions do you have? Would you like to suggest a movie or TV show for us to give a Christian movie review with critical thinking?

Podcast Awards

Nominations have just opened for the Podcast Awards. Please nominate the Noodle.mx Network podcasts and your other favorite podcasts.

New email newsletter

We’re relaunching our email newsletter to be more valuable. Sign up for free updates, movie thoughts, and critical-thinking tips.

What DVD movie should we review next?

Please vote on our Facebook page which movie you think we should. You’ll have until Saturday, September 24.

Please connect with us

If you enjoy Are You Just Watching?™, please subscribe to our other podcasts:

Get high-quality custom podcast cover art designed by Daniel J. Lewis.
About the Author
As an award-winning podcaster, Daniel J. Lewis gives you the guts and teaches you the tools to launch and improve your own podcasts for sharing your passions and finding success. Daniel creates resources for podcasters, such as the SEO for Podcasters training, the My Podcast Reviews global-review aggregator, and the Podcasters' Society membership for podcasters. As a recognized authority and influencer in the podcasting industry, Daniel speaks on podcasting and hosts his own podcasts covering how to podcast, clean-comedy, and the #1 unofficial podcast for ABC's hit drama Once Upon a Time, all under the umbrella of Noodle Mix Network and having received nearly 20 award nominations. Daniel and his wife, Jenny, live near Cincinnati with their newborn son, "Noodle Baby."

7 comments on Dolphin Tale (2011) – AYJW025

  1. kristy hoffman says:

    Well, Put!! Amen! Dolphin Tale is an extrodinary story on some extrodinary people, and One Absolutley Courageous,& Lovabe Dolphin,
    Winter!

    1. Thanks, Kristy. Have you already seen Dolphin Tale?

  2. Vcdechagn says:

    Wow, thanks for this review. It exactly discussed the issues I was looking for when discussing whether to allow our 8 and 7 year olds to see it.

    I was especially worried about humanizing dolphins. It doesn&#039t sound like that&#039s such a big issue, though something to discuss with them, certainly.

    Nice that they actually say the tail was designed!

    1. You&#039re welcome! Thanks for the comment!

      I wouldn&#039t quite call it "humanizing." But they do try to make viewers sympathetic with the dolphin. However, I think the symbolic representative characters, like the injured cousin Kyle, give us humans someone to relate to.

      Kids tend to "humanize" animals more than we do. But this certainly isn&#039t a Disney comic with dolphins talking.

  3. Kelsey says:

    What is wrong with "humanizing" the animal? Animals should have people to care about them..? Pets?

    1. The problem with humanizing animals is that animals aren&#039t humans. God gave us dominion over creation. But yes, He commanded us to care for His creation.

      But the problem we see in the world today also existed nearly 2,000 years ago when Paul wrote "For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen" (Romans 1:25). Many people are placing animals above humans, choosing to save animals but kill unwanted babies.

  4. Charlie A says:

    I find it amusing that Christians get to call what they do “religion” and what Native Americans do “myth”. People turning into dolphins doesn’t sound any less reasonable than an invisible man in the sky, virgin births, and raising of the dead. There aren’t very many of us Chumash left thanks to the genocide inflicted upon us by Christians.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.