Why Local Kids Must See Dolphin Tale 2 in the Theater
An Editor’s Review by Pamela Settle
Aside from the movie being a heart-warming tale that is family friendly and entertaining, Dolphin Tale 2 can deliver something extra special to children who live in the Tampa Bay area, especially Pinellas County.
There is something to be gained when the Hollywood establishment validates your hometown by putting it in the movies. Pride in one’s city can grow with the knowledge that people all around the world are watching a popular movie made on your turf with the scenery you get to see and enjoy everyday. The movie also shares the heroes’ tales of those who work in marine rescue right in our back yard at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
The allure of being famous on the big screen is what brings wannabe actors to Southern California. They yearn for the moment when they can show their friends and families that are good enough to be in pictures. “Look mom, that’s me, right there.” It’s why you hear so many award acceptance speeches include references to the folks back home, the high school drama teacher and friends who stood by in thick and thin. “You believed in me and I thank you!” is another way to say, Look what I have accomplished. They like me, they really like me!
The same holds true for a city. Who hasn’t gone to New York City on vacation and recognized famous landmarks that are always in the movies? Or Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas or San Francisco? These cities are made famous because television shows and movies are shot on location. This kind of exposure creates a relationship with the viewers who are far away and can stimulate a desire to visit that city. This media fame also does something for the residents who, over time, develop a sense of pride that their city is a cool city, cool enough to be on the little screen and the big screen.
I felt that watching Dolphin Tale and now Dolphin Tale 2, and was excited for my son who pointed at the big screen at Cobb Theater in Clearwater and whispered, “Look mom, there’s Winter. We’ve been there.” Indeed we had. Several times. As well as countless treks over the bridge to Clearwater Beach which is shown in its glory in aerial shots several times during the movie. The sponge docks in Tarpon got a nod. Frenchy’s got a mention. There is a party at the Island Way Grill where we celebrated Grandparent’s Day last year with out-of-town grandparents. We’ve even participated in family events in the parking lot at Florida Hospital North Pinellas which is where Hazel and Sawyer’s mom have a heart-to-heart chat. The beach scenes where animals are rescued and later released give viewers outside of Florida a glimpse into what life like here must be like.
My heart smiled and shoulders lifted a bit as the pride started to settle in. I felt a collective camaraderie of spirit when the movie ended and the nearly full theater of locals cheerfully applauded. But that wasn’t the end of clapping. Immediately following the film, real life CMA video clips of animal rescues are shown. Also multiple clips of disabled children and veterans who come in wheelchairs and on prosthetic limbs to bond in person with Winter. The juxtaposition of real life at the end of the movie brought it home even more to those of us who know about the work done at the CMA on a daily basis. When those clips ended, the applause was louder yet warmer as if the sound was coming through the beaming pride in the air.
Those kinds of Hollywood moments don’t happen very often for us here in Tampa Bay. So please take the time to share it with your children. Let them see that CMA and our little corner of the world is special enough to be in a major motion picture on a big screen in a theater. If they haven’t been to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium yet, then it’s also definitely worth the experience to visit Winter in her home to bring it all full circle.
We can hope that the success of the Dolphin Tale movies will bring more productions to Tampa Bay, but until that happens, don’t miss this chance for your kids to see their home on the big screen!
About the movie: In Dolphin Tale 2, Sawyer, Hazel and the crew at CMA must resolve the dilemma that Winter is alone after the death of her companion dolphin Panama. The USDA does not allow a dolphin to be alone in captivity and they have 30 days to resolve the situation or Winter will be relocated. The story is close to real life in that a baby dolphin named Hope saves the day and saves Winter’s home. The sequel goes a little more into the daily workings of a marine hospital who has as its mission: Rescue, Rehabilitate and Release — taking viewers deeper into the heroic reality of the CMA with turtle rescues and a dolphin release. All the characters from the original movie are back with the same warmth and humor. Sawyer and Hazel are older now, taking on more responsible roles in the aquarium. Winter again shines as an actress. She handled her role quite well as a dolphin who is sad, stressed, scared and then happy. There are no Academy Awards for dolphins, but for those of us here, Winter will always be a winner!
Learn more about Winter and the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.