Reel Reviews

‘Dolphin Tale 2’

Audience: A-I – general patronage


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Feel-good family film

Flipper’s cousin is making waves again in “Dolphin Tale 2” (Warner Bros.), the dramatic follow-up to the 2011 film about the marine mammal with the prosthetic tail.

Charles Martin Smith returns to direct this family-friendly 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 (Nathan Gamble), 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.

We pick up the story a few years later, and Winter is the star attraction at Clearwater, where Sawyer – now in his teens – is a volunteer guide, along with his pal, Hazel (Cozi Zuehlsdorff).

Hazel’s dad, Clay (Harry Connick Jr.), runs the aquarium which is expanding by leaps and bounds. As such, he is under heavy pressure from investors to keep Winter happy and healthy.

That’s easier said than done. Winter’s surrogate mother, the elderly dolphin Panama, 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 – and fast – the authorities will step in and transfer Winter to another aquarium. Winter, moreover, is in a funk and refusing to perform, to the dismay of paying customers.

Clay must rally the troops, including his grizzled father, Reed (Kris Kristofferson); Sawyer’s spunky mother, Lorraine (Ashley Judd); and the avuncular Dr. Cameron McCarthy (Morgan Freeman), who designed Winter’s new tail.

Even champion surfer Bethany Hamilton drops by to help. Hamilton, who lost an arm to a shark, was the subject of another inspirational water-based film, 2011’s “Soul Surfer.”

Overall, it’s a whale of a tail – make that, tale – with a sweet side story of puppy love, as Hazel admires the clueless Sawyer, preoccupied by the plight of his aquatic pal.

“Dolphin Tale 2” is that rare Hollywood film: wholesome and fun for all ages, with nice messages about family, responsibility, and perseverance.

The Catholic News Service classification is A-I – general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG – parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

By Joseph McAleer, Catholic News Service

‘The Identical’

A-I – general patronage


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Elvis Presley in the mirror

Although they may be sociologically fascinating, in the cultural scheme of things, Elvis Presley impersonators are not widely deemed to occupy a particularly exalted position. Yet no one can deny the enduring appeal of an entertainer who, close to 40 years after his death, still has not only legions of fans but hosts of followers devoted enough to settle for myriad attempts at imitation now that the real thing is no longer around.

Moviegoers’ attitudes toward the former occupant of Graceland will likely shape their reactions to the reality-related drama “The Identical” (Freestyle). Director Dustin Marcellino’s film takes its premise from the historical fact that Elvis was a twin. Sadly, though, his brother Jesse was stillborn.

But what if he had survived? In the fictional version of events developed in this movie, the newborn brothers’ impoverished parents, William (Brian Geraghty) and Helen (Amanda Crew) Hemsley, are in such desperate straits that they 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 (Ray Liotta) and his wife Louise (Ashley Judd). The Wades are a happily married couple whose principal cross in life so far 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. Meanwhile, 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 old dilemma Al Jolson faced in "The Jazz Singer," Ryan prefers belting out tunes to thumping the Bible. 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 that will not appeal to city slickers. As for its suitable audience, a single vague reference to the connection between romantic passion and the arrival of babies may debar those who are still members of the stork club.

The Catholic News Service classification is A-I – general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG – parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

By John Mulderig, Catholic News Service

Monthly List of Recent Film Ratings (September 2014)

CNS classifications: A-I -- general patronage; A-II -- adults and adolescents; A-III -- adults; L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling; O -- morally offensive.

MPAA ratings: G -- general audiences. All ages admitted; PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children; PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13; R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian; NC-17 -- no one 17 and under admitted.

Across the Divide, A-II (no rating)
And So It Goes, A-III (PG-13)
The Awakening, A-III (R)
Begin Again, A-III (R)
Boyhood, L (R)
Brick Mansions, L (PG-13)
Bully, A-III (PG-13)
Calvary, L (R)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier, A-II (PG-13)
Chef, A-III (R)
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, A-III (PG-13)
Deliver Us From Evil, L (R)
Draft Day, A-III (PG-13)
Dream House, L (PG-13)
Earth to Echo, A-II (PG)
Edge of Tomorrow, A-III (PG-13)
The Expendables 3, A-III (PG-13)
The Fault in Our Stars, A-III (PG-13)
The Fluffy Movie, A-III (PG-13)
Frances Ha, L (R)
Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, O (R)
Get On Up, A-III (PG-13)
The Giver, A-II (PG-13)
Godzilla, A-III (PG-13)
Guardians of the Galaxy, A-III (PG-13)
Hercules, A-III (PG-13)
How to Train Your Dragon 2, A-I (PG)
The Hundred-Foot Journey, A-III (PG)
Ida, A-III (PG-13)
If I Stay, A-III (PG-13)
Into the Storm, A-III (PG-13)
Jersey Boys, A-III, (R)
Killer Elite, A-III (R)
The Last Exorcism Part II, L (PG-13)
The Legend of Hercules, A-III (PG-13)
Let's Be Cops, L (R)
Lucy, L (R)
Magic in the Moonlight, A-III (PG-13)
Maleficent, A-II (PG)
Mary of Nazareth, A-II (not rated)
Million Dollar Arm, A-III (PG)
A Million Ways to Die in the West, O (R)
Moms' Night Out, A-I (PG)
A Most Wanted Man, A-III (R)
Mr. Peabody & Sherman, A-I (PG)
Neighbors, O (R)
The November Man, O (R)
Obvious Child, O (R)
Phantom, A-III (R)
Planes: Fire & Rescue, A-II (PG)
The Purge: Anarchy, O (R)
Quartet, A-III (PG-13)
Sex Tape, O (R)
Something Borrowed, L (PG-13)
Step Up All In, A-III (PG-13)
Tammy, A-III (R)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, A-II (PG-13)
Think Like a Man Too, O (PG-13)
Transformers: Age of Extinction, A-III (PG-13)
22 Jump Street, O (R)
Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas, A-III (PG-13)
Tyler Perry's Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor, A-III (PG-13)
Warm Bodies, A-III (PG-13)
When the Game Stands Tall, A-II (PG)
The Wind Rises, A-III (PG-13)
X-Men: Days of Future Past, A-III (PG-13)