Dolphin Tale: A Movie With Homeschooling Characters Worth Seeing

We just returned from a screening of the upcoming movie Dolphin Tale, compliments of Homeschool Movie Club.

The movie centers around a wounded dolphin and the two children who work tirelessly to help save him. Hazel, a homeschooled girl of around 11, has grown up working with sea creatures alongside both her father and grandfather.  Sawyer is an unmotivated, somewhat sad young boy, also around 11, who first meets Winter, the dolphin, washed ashore on a Florida beach, tangled up in a crab trap.

Sawyer develops a passion for Winter, a feeling that is returned by the dolphin, and convinces his mother to let him replace a tired season of summer school with helping Hazel and her father’s aquarium care for Winter.

I won’t give away any more of the plot.

I will suggest that when you see it (it opens in theaters September 23rd), you bring plenty of tissue.

Seriously, I have not cried this much during a movie since Running on Empty or Amistad.  There is just something so magical and moving about a relationship between a child and a dolphin.

The presence of Harry Connick Jr. doesn’t hurt either.

It is quite possible that this is the first movie I have ever seen that treats homeschooling with a great deal of respect.  It neither shoves it down the viewer’s throat nor mocks it.  It does, however, demonstrate how an environment that allows a child to follow their passions can vitalize their education.

On the downside, it makes the parental role in homeschooling seem far too easy.  Hazel’s education was naturally built right into her father’s very exciting job.  Sawyer’s mother, it would seem from the movie, was scarcely involved in his journey beyond her support and encouragement.  Were a parent to see this movie and use it as motivation to seek the same level of integration into a passion, the parent and child could end up woefully disappointed that it involves so much more than what the movie suggests.

Really, though, such is the plot of a good movie — it motivates you by presenting a huge version of what could really happen for most people.  It is a regaling story precisely because it is so unusual.  If we parents can keep that in mind, we can view the movie as a presentation of a best case scenario, a goal, the Mona Lisa of education.

However the story itself, one that is inspired by actual events, motivates you, I hope you will go see this movie.  It is one of the few that is worth the full theater ticket price.  It is also appropriate for the entire family with not an ounce of any disconcerting content.

Between now and then, check out Winter’s activities on the Cleerwater Marine Aquarium website.