A terrific seasonal movie — a film that reignites the flagging human spirit.

A charming–and true!–'tale' based on misfortune overcome, it focuses on strength and overcoming, has a refreshing feel throughout, features believable people–especially the always exceptional Ashley Judd, the engaging, masculine, relatable Kris Kristofferson, and the rugged, very intelligent Harry Connick, Jr.–and seems unusual in that adults can enjoy it alongside kidlets. I was at first under the impression that it was animated, since the beginning sequence with dolphins scooting about underwater did not look real, and I was prepared for animated storyline follow-up–but was relieved to see it was live action.

The Florida film is extrapolated from a real dolphin, Winter, a playful mammal who was caught up in netting and other human detritus now jetsamming and flotsamming the seas. With his tailfin gone from apoptotic cellular death, now rudderless, will Winter develop incurable spinal calcification difficulties and die prematurely? Winsome and not-too-precious kids take over plot machinations to rescue depressed dolphin Winter. Adults listen and assist.

The take-home of this sweet and no-naughty-anything entertainment is that science is busily working toward perfectability. In the film, it is a partially disabled dolphin, but the solution of her handicap, or "fin-icap," more precisely, is also the direction being taken for returning disabled soldiers and those born with physical challenges.

Fishy thought: I think 'Winter' here, the dolphin star, has a splashy career ahead of her, possibly in Esther Williams film remakes. Or surfing sagas with animal companions.


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