Flipper (1996) – Review

3 Stars

An adult critic sets him/herself up for failure if they review a children’s film through the eyes of adulthood. It’s almost always a fool’s errand to review a kid’s picture. Flipper is a movie that should be viewed through the prism of a child’s sensibility. This is a film that can’t stand up to harsh scrutiny but is sure to please all of the young views it attracts.

Sandy (Elijah Wood) is cast-off to stay with his uncle Porter (Paul Hogan) for the summer. The young teen is a fan of rock concerts and isn’t happy that he’ll be missing his favorite band because Porter lives in a remote part of the Florida Keys. Sandy’s bummer of summer is changed when he befriends a feisty, orphaned dolphin whose life he saved. The boy and his friendly dolphin end up fighting a dangerous enemy (Jonathan Banks) who is contaminating the Ocean with toxins.

Flipper is admittedly a thin movie, it doesn’t flesh out any of its characters and the villains are cartoonish, but Paul Hogan and Elijah Wood have nice screen chemistry as distant relatives, and the gorgeous tropical setting has been nicely captured by the photography from Oscar-nominated D.P., Bill Butler. Sure Flipper is a film with modest ambitions. But it’s also a picture with sweetness, a good message, and beautiful locations. These qualities are hallmarks of good family entertainment, and Flipper is a perfect film to fit that description.

Director: Alan Shapiro
Stars: Paul Hogan, Elijah Wood, Chelsea Field

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