Flipper - * 1/2*

Weak movie that tries to mix the original tv show with Free Willy, and ends up with something more closely resembling chum than a decent film. Surly teen Sandy (Elijah Wood) has been sent away by his divorcing mother to spend the summer with his uncle, Porter Rick (Paul Hogan). Sandy is a modern teen (we can tell by his endless supply of modern rock t-shirts), who is bummed because he won’t be able to attend a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert (deep motivation). However, his views are turned around when the meets the title character. He rescues Flipper the dolphin’s life from the mean, cruel and evil Dirk Moran (Jonathan Banks), and earns a finned friend for life. However, since the producers obviously needed some deeper and more important plot points than simply watching a dolphin swim around, a plot is uncovered in which the mean, cruel, and evil Dirk Moran is poisoning the ocean by dumping hundreds of barrels of toxic waste just off the prime fishing grounds. Then, the movie takes a very strange turn, by introducing a killer hammerhead shark, a nerdy genius boy who invents the Flippo-cam, and of all people Isaac Hayes as a local sheriff, wanting Sandy to free Willy…I mean Flipper. Anyway, I guess you don’t go to a Flipper movie expecting Shakespeare, but even the underwater dolphin scenes are rather boring. Perhaps young tykes who’ve never seen a dolphin before might enjoy bits and pieces, but watch out for the shark scenes. Paul Hogan has some good moments as the gruff beach-bum captain, but Elijah Wood is grating as the obnoxious teen, and Flipper is, well, a dolphin. Don’t expect much from Flipper…you won’t get much back.

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