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Dolphin Tale 2

While it would take a special kind of bravery (and madness) to attempt a film adaptation of Oh, the Places You'll Go!, its "world of possibilities" message is one that can find a cozy home in most any story about growing up. Cozy is just the word to describe Dolphin Tale 2 and its endeavor to carry forth the spirit of Dr. Seuss' final book.

The clean-as-a-whistle family film uses its effectively flawless hero, the high school-aged Sawyer (Nathan Gamble), to celebrate the bounties of stepping out of your comfort zone and into the world. Throughout the film, Sawyer wrestles with a tough decision: does he accept a fantastic opportunity to spend a semester studying marine biology at sea through Boston University, or does he keep anchored to his work at the Clearwater Marine Hospital for fear of leaving his friends - both human and dolphin - behind when he fears they might need him the most?

Sawyer's conflict carries forth as he and his colleagues (Cozi Zuehlsdorff and Harry Connick Jr.) search for a new cohabitant for amputee dolphin Winter, whose aged pool-mate Panama passes on in the beginning of the movie. The time spent with the animals is the movie's greatest asset: Tensions hike whenever the team apprehends an ailing dolphin - one bears visible skin injuries, one is undersized and initially contentious with Winter - and the well-being of each rescued creature makes for consistent, palpable drama. Much lighter but perhaps doubly as charming fare surrounds a wounded sea turtle that Hazel (Zuehlsdorff) takes special attention to… and with whom Clearwater's unofficial mascot Rufus the pelican falls ostensibly in love. Near lethal levels of cuteness ensue.

While the wildlife material thrives on this kind of potent wholesomeness, the human stories suffer just a bit from a complete lack of teeth, incurring boredom on two or three occasions. Nevertheless, Dolphin Tale 2's heart is admirable and more often than not affective. Saywer and Hazel collect life lessons courtesy of their family, colleagues, aquatic friends, and an occasional Morgan Freeman speech (he's got a doozy involving a pocket watch metaphor), all to the thematic end of growing up. Founding itself on the values of seizing responsibility and setting sail out into the world, the saccharine, sleepy sequel could actually be a pretty valuable experience for young viewers.