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Dolphin Tale (2011)



Average Rating: 6.5/10
Reviews Counted: 106
Fresh: 87 | Rotten: 19

Wisely dialing down the schmaltz, Dolphin Tale is earnest, sweet, and well-told, a rare family film that both kids and parents can enjoy.


Average Rating: 6.5/10
Critic Reviews: 30
Fresh: 25 | Rotten: 5

Wisely dialing down the schmaltz, Dolphin Tale is earnest, sweet, and well-told, a rare family film that both kids and parents can enjoy.



liked it
Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 43,586

My Rating

Movie Info

Dolphin Tale is inspired by the amazing true story of a brave dolphin and the compassionate strangers who banded together to save her life. Swimming free, a young dolphin is caught in a crab trap, severely damaging her tail. She is rescued and transported to the Clearwater Marine Hospital, where she is named Winter. But her fight for survival has just begun. Without a tail, Winter's prognosis is dire. It will take the expertise of a dedicated marine biologist, the ingenuity of a brilliant


Drama, Kids & Family

Karen Janszen, Noam Dromi

Dec 20, 2011


Warner Bros. Pictures - Official Site External Icon

Watch It Now


Latest News on Dolphin Tale

May 28, 2013:
Dolphin Tale Could Get a Sequel
"Dolphin Tale" writer/director Charles Martin Smith has a script ready.
October 3, 2011:
Box Office Guru! Dolphin Rises to #1 Spot
Despite four new offerings on the table, moviegoers chose feel-good leftovers as the top three films...


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All Critics (106) | Top Critics (30) | Fresh (87) | Rotten (19) | DVD (3)

As much as it grates, it still manages to warm the cockles.

October 11, 2011 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Plenty of ambition. But the dialogue can be tin-eared, and the comedy has a cater- to-kids quality that sells youngsters short.

September 23, 2011 Full Review Source: Denver Post | Comments (8)
Denver Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Instead of steering toward deep and troubled waters, "Dolphin Tale" jumps through hoops to engage a young audience.

September 23, 2011 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

That it manages to be not insufferable while still being so predictable is a small tribute to its cast and crew.

September 23, 2011 Full Review Source: Newark Star-Ledger
Newark Star-Ledger
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A potentially appealing story about a rescued disabled dolphin gets smothered with inspirational family values guff.

September 23, 2011 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail | Comments (8)
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

September 23, 2011 Full Review Source: New York Daily News | Comment (1)
New York Daily News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It just wants to make you leave the theater in a good mood. It certainly accomplishes that.

June 22, 2013 Full Review Source: Deadspin

Dolphin Tale, an inspirational tale about a Little Dolphin Who Could, will swim into your heart despite some melodrama and predictability.

February 11, 2013 Full Review Source: We Got This Covered
We Got This Covered

Middle-of-the-road milquetoast.

April 6, 2012 Full Review Source:

It's an earnest, sweet film that relies on the extraordinary true story of Winter, the rescued dolphin, and little on manipulative Hollywood tricks.

January 5, 2012 Full Review Source:

When I write the "Cookie Awards" in my annual Oscar-season column for the Quad-City Times, I always include this category: Most Embarrassing Crying Spell. There is no question which movie will 'win' the award. I bawled when I watched 'Dolphin Tale.'

December 22, 2011 Full Review Source: KWQC-TV (Iowa) | Comment (1)
KWQC-TV (Iowa)

In the hands of actor-turned-director Charles Martin Smith, this kid-centric drama provides a welcome family option with positive values and a minimum of frantic, noisy CGI. It's a tale told on a human (and animal) scale.

December 22, 2011 Full Review Source: Groucho Reviews
Groucho Reviews

One wonders why the filmmakers felt the need to turn a fascinating true story into a cliche-ridden, formulaic family film.

December 19, 2011 Full Review Source: Aisle Seat | Comments (2)
Aisle Seat

While some adults may get impatient with it, kids will undoubtedly find it appealing.

December 17, 2011 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

Inspired by a wonderfully inspiring true story, Dolphin Tale has all the right ingredients for a family movie with adorable dolphins ..and the plucky youngster who plays a major role in the feel-good plot

December 10, 2011 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

You would have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by this uplifting, heart-warming tale, about a dolphin that learns to swim with a prosthetic tail

December 10, 2011 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

Sawyer's interactions with Winter make the movie fun for kids especially - an intelligent animal connects with a boy in need of attention and affection.

December 7, 2011 Full Review Source: Time to Play Magazine
Time to Play Magazine

Those looking to leave the cinema with a warm glow should seek this one out.

November 25, 2011 Full Review Source: The National
The National

Sometimes drifts into the emotional shallows rather than letting its 'inspired by a true story' soar on its own.

November 11, 2011 Full Review Source: Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada) | Comment (1)
Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)

An endearing tale of family, friendship and fighting for what you believe in.

October 21, 2011 Full Review Source: Fan The Fire
Fan The Fire

The emotive aspect of the film is so tangible it's the equivalent of having someone grab hold of your heart on the inside of your rib cage ready to give it an occasional squeeze.

October 14, 2011 Full Review Source: Birmingham Mail
Birmingham Mail

While it plays hard and loose with the facts, this tale of a boy and a bottlenose dolphin is guaranteed to create a tidal wave's worth of tears.

October 14, 2011 Full Review Source: Daily Mirror [UK]
Daily Mirror [UK]

Don't expect miracles but this is about a kind of miracle and doesn't sentimentalise it to death.

October 14, 2011 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

Two hours of redemptive hugs, triumphant whoops and tearful smiles later we learn that pinning a tail on a dolphin is, on the scale of human achievement, not far behind winning the Nobel Peace Prize and discovering a cure for cancer.

October 14, 2011 Full Review Source: Independent | Comments (3)

The true story of a lonely, underachieving young lad's special bond with a disabled dolphin seems guaranteed to make you teary-eyed.

October 13, 2011 Full Review Source: Daily Express
Daily Express

Engagingly directed and superbly written, this is a heart-warming feel-good drama with likeable characters and some impressive dolphin wrangling, though the 3D is entirely unnecessary.

October 13, 2011 Full Review Source: ViewLondon

Audience Reviews for Dolphin Tale

At the heart of Dolphin Tale there is a wonderful story, more so if it is in fact as true as it claims. The actors were all on good form and reasonably well cast, the stereotypes and cliches were minimal and it was well directed. The real problem is the writing. There are so many stupid sub-plots and pointless scenes that it really tarnishes what should have been a simple story, especially as it is nearly two hours long. The remote control helicopter scene is a prime example, it takes up 10 minutes and adds absolutely nothing to the finished film but is obviously just there due to its 3D cinema release. A good example in the argument against 3D films. The whole 'solder' storyline was a bit sickly too, not sure why every handicap has to be justified in some way but then again, it comes down to poor writing. A real shame, as it is a lovely story. Don't overlook but don't prioritise, wait for it to be on TV.
March 23, 2012

Super Reviewer

Inspired by the amazing true story of Winter

Good inspirational movie!I highly recommend this movie for any family, especially anyone with a disability. And as far as the barely believable and possibly sappy plot, sometime real life is like that and that is a good thing!

A lonely and friendless boy finds and untangles a hurt dolphin that is caught in a crab trap. He becomes very attached to the dolphin when the tail must be taken off to save the dolphin's life. The boy believes the dolphin would be able to swim normally if it was given a prosthetic tail.
February 24, 2012
Manu Gino

Super Reviewer

This movie seemed a bit like this generations, 'Free Willy', I caught a lot of the same ideas and overall family friendly feel in it. Of course, this movie was inspired by a true story, so not sure what all was legit and what all was added drama but the overall conclusion was it was a decent-family friend feel with a great message to be told.

Dolphin Tale focuses on a rescued Dolphin befriended by a boy who discovers it wrapped up in a net on the beach. The boy, struggling with his own problems in life, finds solitude in his time with the Dolphin forming a bond between them that helps them both continue on and keep fighting the hardships of life thrust in their direction.

An attempt at a bionic tale (which obviously eventually works) is the core of the movie, the message, is the struggle for those with handicaps and over-coming odds in life no matter what they are. I thought the message for children especially, those with disabilities, who can find some type of encouragement and hope through this film was amazing and that's what won me over in a family-friendly film that typically wouldn't catch my mind or time.

It wasn't the greatest acting, wasn't the greatest movie, in fact as a movie by itself I am not sure it stands up to many others very well but the overall but the overall message and reality behind the story is what really stood out to me. It's a sloppy movie for a true movie critic, but, its inspiration and a feel good film, especially for children. So for that, it's not for all, but is for some...average on my rating scale...
February 8, 2012

Super Reviewer

Starring Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd, and Morgan Freeman, "Dolphin Tale" is exactly what you would expect. It's a movie about a boy(Nathan Gamble) who befriends an injured dolphin. The dolphin loses it's tail, and the boy then sets off to get help to get the dolphin a prostetic tail. It's a cross between "Soul Surfer" and "Free Willy". Total family movie, that runs too long and is borderline boring in some parts, but overall it's decent. The performances are good, the dolphin is cool, and the effects are well done. The movie is obviously made for 3D, but I only watched it in 2D on Blu Ray, and it still looks beautiful. That being said, not a movie I will probably watch again, but still okay enough for one watch.
January 30, 2012
Everett Johnson

Super Reviewer

    1. Dr. Cameron McCarthy: [talking to Kyle Connellan when he says he can't swim anymore because he's 'broken'. Dr. McCarthy walks over to table, picks up and glass, drops it and it shatters on the ground] Now, THAT'S broken.
    – Submitted by Mark P (2 years ago)
    1. Sawyer Nelson: But Winter needs me.
    – Submitted by John B (2 years ago)
    1. Sawyer Nelson: But... I wanted to show him some stuff.... and invite him to meet Winter.
    – Submitted by Vaneay C (2 years ago)
    1. Dr. Cameron McCarthy: No one in his right mind would try to put a tail on a fish.
    – Submitted by Joe S (2 years ago)
    1. Dr. McCarthy: [from trailer] In this changing world, it's harder than ever to find something extraordinary, but every once in a while a symbol of hope breaks through.
    – Submitted by Chris P (2 years ago)
    1. Lorraine: You are going to school tomorrow and that is it!
    – Submitted by Alyssa B (2 years ago)
View all quotes (6)

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Foreign Titles

  • Mein Freund, der Delfin (DE)
  • Dolphin Tale (UK)
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