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(2011), PG [G-PG*] (1hr 47min)

Final Score
Analysis Date
Date Posted
Influence Density
September 27, 2011
September 27, 2011

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(While the Scriptural references are certainly not subjective, my commentary may be and sometimes is somewhat subjective.)

If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary.

(2011), PG [G-PG*] ... is every bit G-equivalent.

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Alcon Entertainment, PAradise F.X. Corp.
Distribution (US): Warner Brothers
Director(s): Charles Martin Smith
Producer(s): Brad Arensman, Yolanda T. Cochran, Robert Engelman, Richard Ingber, Broderick Johnson, Andrew A. Kosove, Keith Melton, Carl Rogers, Steven P. Wegner, David Yates
Written by: Karen Janzen, Naom Dromi
Cinematography/Camera: Karl Walter Lindenlaub
Music: Mark Isham
Film Editing: Harvey Rosenstock
Casting: Kerry Barden, Paul Schnee
Production Design: Michael Corenblith
Viewed at Showbiz Cinema 6, Granbury, TX

Dolphin Tale does not bear the typical earmarks of a PG film nor does it bear the quantity typically associated with "PG." With a final score of 92 it is every bit G-equivalent.

Young Floridian Sawyer Nelson (Nathan Gamble) is failing to measure up. He is withdrawn and prefers tinkering with his gadgets rather than playing with kids his own age. His best friend is his cousin, Kyle (Austin Stowell), a champion swimmer who is only days away from leaving for his first Army deployment. Sawyer's father left him, now Kyle is leaving. Sawyer is, in his heart, all alone. Again. No matter how much Kyle assures Sawyer that he will be back there is little comfort in Kyle's assurances. The broken relationships that invaded Sawyer's life have left scars.

On another unauthorized outing Sawyer happens upon a man fishing in the ocean. Sawyer notices what the fisherman notices - a beached dolphin with its tail trapped in a crab trap and severely injured. Sawyer is successful in freeing the dolphin's tail from the crab trap with a special multi-tool pocket knife set Kyle gave him but cannot get the dolphin completely free from all the ropes entangling the dolphin. Even if Sawyer does get the dolphin free, what can he do? Using Sawyer's cell phone the fisherman notifies someone who notifies the Clearwater Marine Hospital which sends a rescue team to retrieve the injured dolphin.

At the hospital, Dr. Clay Haskett (Harry Connick, Jr.) must amputate the dolphin's tail to save its life. But save its life how? Without its tail the dolphin cannot survive in the ocean. Clay's daughter, Hazel (Cozi Zuehlsdorff) and Sawyer work uncommonly together with a team of adults to rehabilitate the dolphin and try to nurse it back to health. Successful they all are but now what? The dolphin, which is now named Winter, does not have a tail.

Enters Dr. Cameron McCarthy (Morgan Freeman), a prosthetics expert for the injured military personnel. Together they all fit Winter with a prosthetic tail.

There is one feature of this film I would like to bring out front before I get into revealing the content for parents, grandparents, pastors, youth leaders and more. Many films involving children place the children in roles much too worldly, bitter and arrogant to be representative of the typical adolescent and place the parents as bumbling idiots. This film does not do that. The kids are kids and the parents are parents. this film is a delightful watch. It is warm and funny, engrossing and heroic. But that is my subjective opinion. Soon I will get to the objective feature of the CAP analysis model.

I have probably spoiled too much of this truly family film already. If you want to know more about the film story and plot there are probably a thousand websites which provide this sort of information, but only the CAP Ministry can give you the copyrighted comparative scoring information we provide below.


Following are brief discussions of the content per individual CAP investigation area. As always the Findings section of this report is the best source for discovering the full accounting of the content of this film.

Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - 94 out of 100
The only matters of violence in the entire 107 minutes of this film are storm peril with damage and family losses: abandonment by the father and a best friend/cousin leaving, causing heartache.

Impudence/Hate (I) - 69 out of 100
Here is where the concentration of potentially counterproductive content occurs, and the reason for the yellow CAPCon Alert light (click on it for an explanation). All of the matters of impudence and/or hate are by an adolescent and each may serve to proselytize your youth. Sawyer is disrespectful to and defiant of his mother, Lorraine (Ashley Judd). He is also defiant of posted entry controls which he is quite capable of reading. Sawyer throws a storm-off, door-slam tantrum and plays hookey from summer school for a week. He also lies to his mom. While the typical adolescent might grow out of such an attitude, a noble destination does not excuse an ignoble path. God is adamant about haughtiness and arrogance. God names seven behaviors He hates in Prov. 6:16 - 19 and arrogance is the first of the seven (which happens to be the most prominent presence in modern entertainment - see our Investigation Area Scoring and Trend CAP Special Report for more information about the prominence of impudence in and as entertainment today). [Isa. 30:1]

Sexual Immorality (S) - 86 out of 100
The only content which applies to this investigation area is the repeated display of below navel skin on male swimmers which threatens to expose that which follows.

Drugs/Alcohol (D) - 100 out of 100
There are no displays of or references to alcoholic beverages or drinking of them, to illegal drugs or consumption of them nor abuse of prescription drugs.

Offense to God (O) - 100 out of 100
There are no uses of God's name in vain, no sorcery, no witchcraft, no occultism or demonism or anything of the kind.
Murder/Suicide (M) - 100 out of 100
there are no portrayals of murder or suicide.


If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ] or bold. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.


  • Prov. 6:16 - 19 There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.
  • Isa. 30:1 "Woe to the obstinate children," declares the LORD, to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin;

    Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry

  • Jer. 37:9 This is what the LORD says: Do not deceive yourselves, thinking, 'The Babylonians [the destroyers from within] will surely leave us.' They will not!
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men [when enough people continue to defend what is vile, embrace it, enjoy it, want it, submit to it.]
  • Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man [by his influence] spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 Be not deceived: evil [kakov: of a bad nature, not such as it ought to be] communications corrupt good manners.
  • Rom. 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
  • Jude 1:4 For there are certain men* crept in unawares [secretly slipped in among us], who were before of old ordained to this condemnation [whose condemnation was written about long ago], ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness [a license for immorality], and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
  • Luke 17:2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. [Offend: skandalizo {skan-dal-id'-zo} - scandalize; to entice to sin; to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey; to cause to fall away.]
  • Ps. 119:133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me [let no sin rule over me].
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. ["Evil" includes all things that are sinful.]


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
    (The objective heart of the CAP Analysis Model, independent of and insulated from the Summary / Commentary section.)

    Dolphin Tale (2011) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - 94 out of 100
  • storm peril with damage
  • painful family losses - father abandonment magnified by cousin/best friend leaving for the Army

    Impudence/Hate (I) - 69 out of 100
  • adolescent peer meanness
  • adolescent arrogance at disobeying "Do Not Enter" sign
  • adolescent sneaking to defy rules
  • adolescent lie to mother
  • adolescent tantrum
  • adolescent disobeying mother
  • adolescent skipping classes for a week during summer school

    Sexual Immorality (S) - 88 out of 100
  • below navel skin - male, repeatedly

    Drugs/Alcohol (D) - 100 out of 100
  • none noted

    Offense to God (O) - 100 out of 100
  • none noted

    Murder/Suicide (M) - 100 out of 100
  • none noted

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    There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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    * CAP Equivalence to MPAA Rating Scale:
    Please note our new manner of indicating a film's Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rating in comparison with the CAP equivalence such as "PG-13 [R-13]." The first term is the Motion Picture Association of America's (MPAA) rating. The second term [in brackets] indicates that which the film earned under the CAP analysis model. In the example, "PG-13 [R-13]" indicates the MPAA rated the film PG-13 but the film earned a CAP final score in the scoring range earned by R-rated movies in the comparative baseline database. Other comparative terms used might be "PG [13-PG]", "G [PG-G] or even 'PG-13 [PG]" as was the case for Alien vs Predator. I doubt there will ever be a "G [R]" used, but only time will tell. The CAP analysis model is Rock-solid. The MPAA is not.

    The current CAP to MPAA** nomenclature is:

    For G rated Films with
    G equivalence: G
    PG equivalence: PG-G
    PG-13 equivalence: 13-G
    R equivalence: R-G<
    For PG rated Films with
    G equivalence: G-PG
    PG equivalence: PG
    PG-13 equivalence: 13-PG
    R equivalence: R-PG
    For PG-13 rated Films with
    G equivalence: G-13
    PG equivalence: PG(13)
    PG-13 equivalence: PG-13
    R equivalence: R-13
    For R rated Films with
    G equivalence: G-R
    PG equivalence: PG-R
    PG-13 equivalence: 13-R
    R equivalence: R
    For NR rated Films with
    G equivalence: G-NR
    PG equivalence: PG-NR
    PG-13 equivalence: 13-NR
    R equivalence: R-NR
    ** G, PG, PG-13 and R are registered trademarks of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

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