Dolphin Island Parent Guide
A more polished production would elevate this film above its "after school TV special" vibe.
Parent Movie Review
Annabel Coleridge has a life most 14 year old girls would envy. The beautiful blonde lives with her indulgent grandfather Jonah (Peter Woodward) on a fishing boat in the Bahamas. When she’s not swimming in the clear aqua waters with Mitzi the dolphin, she’s assisting her grandfather with his fishing catch, doing her homework, or helping out at the Dolphin Island Research and Conservation Center founded by her late father.
Everything changes when Annabel realizes that a man is following her on her way home from school. When she hits the stalker with an oar, she learns that he’s a lawyer and has a letter for her from her estranged maternal grandparents. They want to meet with her, and although Annabel seems naively excited, viewers know that this isn’t going to be a simple visit….
The biggest problem with Dolphin Island is the bland predictability of the plot. Annabel is incredibly clueless for a teenager, blissfully unaware of the currents swirling around her, but audiences have no such luxury. I mapped the entire trajectory of the plot within the first 15 minutes of the film and there were no surprises from that point on. As I glumly watched the story mechanically tick all of its boxes, I had plenty of time to think about the other unsatisfactory elements of the film, chief of which is the acting. There’s no other word for it: the acting in this film is bad. While Peter Woodward occasionally manages to rise above the level of the rest of the cast, most of the portrayals are mired in the level of a high school production. Performances are stiff, with wooden delivery and an amateur air. To be fair, the script isn’t great, but it could have been salvaged by a better cast.
These failings are unfortunate because there’s a potentially decent family film here and a more polished production would have elevated it above its “after school TV special” vibe. Dolphin Island provides a positive look at a teenager who, despite being unbelievably artless, is also kind and a positive influence on the young people around her. The story celebrates family ties, sacrifice, forgiveness, and a willingness to do what’s best for loved ones. The movie also asks you to consider what really makes a happy life: does happiness come from wealth and economic opportunities or from meaningful work and a supportive community?
Thankfully, these positive themes aren’t dragged down by negative content. The only real problem I have is that no one faces any consequences for bad behavior. The teen pickpocket, the unethical lawyer, the desperate client who hires him – none of them deal with the natural fallout from their choices.
Carping aside, watching Dolphin Island isn’t 91 minutes of misery. The movie was shot in the Bahamas and the stunning scenery provides a blissful escape from our never-ending covid winter. The jewel-bright aqua seas, clear and sparkling in the sun; the glorious beaches, washed in blazing sunsets; the brightly colored buildings of the Bahamas – all are an invitation to add the Bahamas to your bucket list in a post-covid world. Younger viewers will probably enjoy the film and I’m betting that if you turn off the volume, you and your teens can make up your own more entertaining dialogue while soaking in the sun by proxy.Directed by Mike Disa. Starring Peter Woodward, Tyler Jade Nixon, Dionne Lea. Running time: 91 minutes. Theatrical release March 2, 2021. Updated March 3, 2021
Watch the trailer for Dolphin Island
Rating & Content Info
Why is Dolphin Island rated TV-G? Dolphin Island is rated TV-G by the MPAA
Violence: A man follows a teenage girl. A teen hits a man with an oar. There is mention of a character punching someone in the nose. A man is hit in the face and is later seen with a black eye. A woman hits a man in the face and gives him a black eye. A boat explodes.
Sexual Content: A man and woman kiss.
Profanity: None noted.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adults drink wine.
Page last updated March 3, 2021
Dolphin Island Parents' Guide
Why did Jonah Coleridge stay in the Bahamas instead of taking Annabel back to England with him? What were the tradeoffs of his decision?
What do you think are the most important elements in a happy life? What role do you think money plays in happiness?