Metascore
64

Generally favorable reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 31
  2. Negative: 0 out of 31
  1. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Sep 21, 2011
    83
    Director Charles Martin Smith presents the kind of movie that gives squeaky-clean a good name.
  2. Reviewed by: Randy Cordova
    Sep 21, 2011
    80
    Cozi Zuehlsdorff winningly plays a young girl who works at the hospital. With her big smile and natural warmth, she is a charmer. Even better is Gamble, who gives a smart and sensitive performance without relying on any of the normal mannerisms that often afflict child actors.
  3. Reviewed by: Peter Hartlaub
    Sep 22, 2011
    75
    Even with the conflict overkill, most of the small moments ring true. Dolphin Tale has more in common with "The Swiss Family Robinson" than most modern live-action family movies, where slapstick and cheap laughs feed short attention spans.
  4. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Sep 22, 2011
    75
    The story of healing and courage is told with a refreshing lack of cynicism, not surprising since it's from the same producers as the wonderful "My Dog Skip."
  5. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Sep 22, 2011
    75
    Even if Dolphin Tale hits every note square on the nose - or maybe because it does - watching it is surprisingly pleasurable.
  6. Reviewed by: Carrie Rickey
    Sep 22, 2011
    75
    Between the earnest boy, his playful mammal, the film from actor-turned-director Charles Martin Smith is a winning family entertainment.
  7. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Sep 22, 2011
    75
    The dolphin is, quite simply, remarkable, and the unstated message of resilience and adaptation ripples easily off the screen to the smallest viewers.
  8. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Sep 21, 2011
    75
    Learning of this story, I thought, aw, come on, give me a break. But it turns out the story is not only based on fact, but the actual dolphin involved, named Winter, stars in the movie as herself. Her new tail functions admirably.
  9. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Sep 21, 2011
    75
    The movie often seems too good to be true, but by the end I wanted a dolphin just like Winter for my own swimming pool.
  10. Reviewed by: Neil Genzlinger
    Sep 22, 2011
    70
    Pitched awfully young, without a shred of the satire or subtlety that is generally found in films aimed at tweeners and above. That's not a bad thing; it just means accompanying grown-ups or older siblings will have to choke down a sizable dose of schmaltz with their fish milkshakes.
  11. Reviewed by: Mary Pols
    Sep 22, 2011
    70
    It doesn't look particularly special - despite the visual potential of underwater scenes - but kids are going to eat this up.
  12. Reviewed by: Aaron Hillis
    Sep 20, 2011
    70
    By the end of the movie, Winter has become a mascot for human disability, especially for children, and Dolphin Tale has enough depth and sensitivity to tap into emotion without feeling manipulative.
  13. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Sep 19, 2011
    70
    This true story of a dolphin with a prosthetic tail has been precision engineered for full inspirational, heart-warming value.
  14. Reviewed by: Andrew Barker
    Sep 19, 2011
    70
    Though garnished with some heavy dollops of cheese, Dolphin Tale is a surprisingly solid, earnest family picture.
  15. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Sep 22, 2011
    67
    Though the film meanders through some chum-heavy patches, this genuine crowd-pleaser from the producers of "The Blind Side" is a worthy new entrant into the boy-and-his-underdog film genre.
  16. Reviewed by: Keith Staskiewicz
    Sep 21, 2011
    67
    While the plot occasionally feels like "Free Willy" without the drama, it's a cute story if you don't mind temporarily trading in your cynicism for a bag of popcorn.
  17. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Sep 23, 2011
    63
    A true story of animal rescue, and it even stars the sea creature to whom it happened. But it's the humans who do the cutesy tricks that make it a mixed blessing.
  18. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Sep 23, 2011
    63
    It's not a perfect film, mind you. It's too long by a quarter, and actor-turned-director Charles Martin Smith ("The Untouchables") lets any sense of real structure slip away in the film's crowded third act.
  19. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Sep 23, 2011
    63
    A reasonably uplifting kids movie if you don't think about it too much. I get paid to think about things too much, and effective as the movie is, it nevertheless left me slightly put off.
  20. Reviewed by: Sean OConnell
    Sep 22, 2011
    63
    It's a whale of a tale, made more special by being predominantly true.
  21. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Sep 22, 2011
    63
    The best of Dolphin Tale takes it easy. Led by Connick and Judd, plus the crucially empathetic Gamble and Zuehlsdorff, the cast includes Kris Kristofferson as the seafaring old salt of a grandpa. The acting has a nice, low-pressure vibe, in contrast to the film's high-pressure peril.
  22. Reviewed by: Roger Moore
    Sep 21, 2011
    63
    No, this isn't how it really happened. But director Charles Martin Smith ("Air Bud") wrings plenty of heartfelt tears and a few laughs out of this fictionalized account.
  23. Reviewed by: Nick Schager
    Sep 21, 2011
    63
    If its plotting can be slight, the film's restraint and earnestness help prevent it from ever tipping over into outright mawkishness, and its performances similarly avoid over-the-top histrionics.
  24. Reviewed by: Eve Barlow
    Oct 10, 2011
    60
    A good shout if your kids like this sort of thing, otherwise best head to your local aquarium.
  25. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Sep 23, 2011
    60
    Most of the family films churned out today are so junky it's almost a shock to find one in which the animals never spout sassy one-liners, or show off their hilarious hip-hop moves.
  26. Reviewed by: Andrea Gronvall
    Sep 22, 2011
    60
    The parallel between the dolphin and the disabled tourists who flock to see it borders on treacle, but Gamble's rapport with his finned costar is so touching that the movie works anyway.
  27. Reviewed by: Alison Willmore
    Sep 20, 2011
    60
    The underwater scenes of Sawyer playing with the dolphin are gorgeous, a cinematic daydream of interspecies connection.
  28. Reviewed by: Pete Hammond
    Sep 20, 2011
    60
    Call it Prosthetic Flipper, but the truly inspiring Dolphin Tale is perfect family entertainment.
  29. Reviewed by: Nathan Rabin
    Sep 21, 2011
    58
    Dolphin Tale is as casual as a pleasant afternoon nap and about as substantive.
  30. Reviewed by: Liam Lacey
    Sep 22, 2011
    50
    A potentially appealing story about a rescued disabled dolphin gets smothered with inspirational family values guff.
  31. Reviewed by: M. E. Russell
    Sep 22, 2011
    50
    Dolphin Tale is inoffensive enough -- little kids will probably dig it -- and I'm not suggesting that family-friendly docudramas should tightly conform to real life. But when they do embellish, they should distill the story into something more compelling, rather than watering it down with pleasant-but-utterly-forgettable inspirational boilerplate.
User Score
6.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 44 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 17
  2. Negative: 2 out of 17
  1. Jan 6, 2013
    0
    BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!F**CK THIS FILM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!MORGAN FREEMAN SUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Full Review »
  2. Aug 6, 2012
    5
    Predictable fun. Fantastic for family audiences. Acting was good, dolphins interesting to see.
  3. May 10, 2012
    5
    If it wasn't based on a true story I would rate a zero. It's strictly for kids as the adults play to and through the kids. Mr Connick should stick to music. He sleepwalks through his dialogue , and is just not believable. The kids add some spice and Mr Freeman does his usual, but the pelican is the standout here. A hint of romance but never developed. Everybody gets together to save the tale / tail and we all smile at the end. So if you really have nothing to do one day and have small children, take the kids but don't expect much. Full Review »