Dolphin Tale 2 (Warner Bros.)
Charles Martin Smith directs this family-friendly, dramatic follow-up to the 2011 film about Winter, whose real-life triumph over disability has made her a symbol of hope to young and old around the world.
Winter, for the unfamiliar, washed up on a Florida beach, tangled in a fishing trap. Discovered by young Sawyer, the female dolphin was brought to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Doctors there were forced to amputate her severely injured tail, but Winter was fitted with a space-age prosthetic, a first.
A few years later, Winter is the star attraction at Clearwater, where Sawyer (now in his teens) is a volunteer guide, along with his pal Hazel. Her dad Clay runs the aquarium which is expanding by leaps and bounds, and is under heavy pressure from investors to keep Winter happy and healthy.
But Winter's elderly surrogate mother has died (a fleeting scene that may upset young viewers). By law, dolphins in captivity must live in pairs, as they crave companionship and social interaction in the water.
Spare dolphins are hard to come by, and without a replacement the authorities will transfer Winter to another aquarium. So Clay must rally the troops, including the doctor, who designed Winter's new tail, and champion surfer Bethany Hamilton, who lost an arm to a shark (and was the subject of the inspirational "Soul Surfer").
A whale of a tail — make that, tale — with a sweet side story of puppy love, “Dolphin Tale 2" is that rare Hollywood film: wholesome and fun for all ages, with nice messages about family, responsibility and perseverance. (A-I, PG)
Moviegoers' attitudes toward the former occupant of Graceland will likely shape their reactions to this reality-related drama which takes its premise from the historical fact that Elvis was a twin (though, sadly, stillborn).
But what if it had been otherwise? In the fictional version of events, the newborn brothers' impoverished parents, the Hemsleys, are in desperate straits, and make the traumatic decision to give one of their sons up for adoption.
They find suitable foster parents in circuit-riding revivalist preacher Reece Wade and his wife Louise, a happily married couple whose principal cross in life has been their childlessness.
For reasons that are not really made clear, however, the Hemsleys are at pains to conceal this arrangement from the world. Accordingly, they swear the Wades to secrecy and give out a cover story that one of their boys has died. They even hold a funeral for him.
Flash forward to the 1950s and Drexel (Blake Rayne), the lad the Hemsleys kept, is rocketing to musical stardom. His obscure but equally talented lookalike Ryan Wade (also Rayne) is being pressured by his father, now a settled pastor, to follow him into the ministry.
But, in a sort of evangelical riff on the dilemma Al Jolson faced in "The Jazz Singer," Ryan prefers belting out tunes to thumping the Scriptures. Eventually, Ryan gets the opportunity to pursue his favored career by impersonating his long-lost counterpart under the moniker of the title. Defied Dad is, needless to say, disappointed.
Wholesome and faith-friendly, "The Identical" is a homespun piece of entertainment with a goodhearted but naive tone. A single vague reference to the connection between romantic passion and the arrival of babies. (A-I, PG)
CNS classifications: A-I — general patronage. A-II — adults and adolescents. A-III — adults. A-IV — adults, with reservations. L — limited adult audiences, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. O — morally offensive.