Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

All of the elements for ‘Eye of the Dolphin’ are certainly there for ridicule.  You have the ‘troubled kid’, who we know is troubled because she smokes pot, drinks liquor from the bottle and wears dark eyeliner.  We have the exasperated caregiver, who in this case is the child’s grandmother, We have the detached father, who in this story is detached because he didn’t know the child even existed, we have a wise old minority, be he Asian, Native American or African American who says wise stuff.  We also have cute cuddly animals – dolphins in this case, and a cause.  The cause in this instance being the protags having to save something, like the orphanage or the amusement park or the family restaurant or the car plant.  In ‘Eye of the Dolphin’ we have to save the dolphin research from the always looming evil developers.  As trite as all of this may sound, and rehashed as all of this is, for some reason that I can’t quite explain, it all kind of works in the overly sentimental family drama ‘Eye of the Dolphin’.

Carly Schroeder plays Alyssa, the afore mentioned troubled teen who hasn’t been the same her mother drowned last year.  Her poor granny Lucy (Katherine Ross) is about at wits end when Alyssa gets sent home for school for the last time for hitting the blount in the girls bathroom.  Desperate, and trying get her own groove on, she informs Alyssa about the father that her mother had told her was dead.  Being that this is a troubled child she reacts in a troubled child way by throwing a tantrum.  Considering her dad could have been crack head or a garbage man, how fortunate then is it that her dad is marine biologist studying dolphin speech patterns in a small island in the Bahamas?  Off Granny and Trouble go to the Bahamas without nary a phone call to Dr. James Hawk (Adrian Dunbar) to at least warn him that he’s getting a 14-year old pot head dumped in his lap.

Hawk, as he is affectionately called, has his own issues as he is performing research attempting to learn how dolphins communicate.  The Mayor of the island who fronted Hawk’s research was under the impression that this research would lead to some kind of windfall for the island in the form of tourist, but alas, it’s been a strictly cash outlay for the poor dude.  Then Granny shows up and informs Hawk that he has a daughter, and that she has the worlds worst attitude to go along with his massive selfishness.  Hawk’s krazy hot island girlfriend Tamika (Christine Adams) tries to loosen things up with her overall hotness and her wise old father Daniel (George Harris) occasionally says wise stuff, but father and daughter need to work out their issues by themselves.  Fortunately they have the dolphins which Alyssa seems to be able to communicate with on some personal level.  But with their relationship straining to breaking point, and the mayor pulling the plug on the financing, it’s going to take a miracle to save the research and more importantly save the budding relationship of father and daughter, who found each other just in time to save each other.

There was nothing ground breaking or original about ‘Eye of the Dolphin’, not even a little bit.   As described it’s certainly a story that you’ve seen probably a dozen times, this weekend alone, but when Alyssa started surfing on the dolphins, I would be lying to you if I said I wasn’t touched just a little bit.  Even the characters were retreads, because I swear if I see on more bratty, misunderstood teenager I will choke somebody, and Carly Schroeder’s Alyssa was about as bratty and as misunderstood as they come, but the child does give a very solid performance and she sure did smoke that joint down like a pro.  Adrian Dunbar looks like he’s had a joint or two in his day, so I’m thinking he was the on-set pot smoking advisor.  Another thing that worked for ‘Eye of the Dolphin’ was the photography and location as the Bahamas have never looked so beautiful, making me want to book a flight and bringing up visions of Michael Franks crooning ‘Look at me I’m a refugee from the Island Life’.  Despite the PG-13 rating, which I’m guessing the MPAA blessed this movie with because a kid smoked a joint or because it showed a white man kissing a black woman, this was about as innocuous as a movie gets with no profanity, no sex, and no violence.  The lead actresses wore Bikini tops once but heck, my super masculine chest is bigger than both of theirs.  Combined. 

If you can tolerate a kid smoking a joint, and it is noted that this a bad thing to do in this movie, then ‘Eye of the Dolphin’ is fine family entertainment that is surprisingly entertaining despite it’s well worn story line.

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