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Judd’s character Lorraine “couldn’t be nicer” but her son “Sawyer is failing in school, has no friends and spends every second he can toying with stuff in his dad’s abandoned workshop,” writes THR‘s Todd McCarthy. The boy’s dad left the family, and his son mopes around in a funk until a wounded dolphin gives him purpose.
As for Judd, she and co-stars Harry Connick Jr., Morgan Freeman and Kris Kristofferen “all have been in better things, and should be again, but they’re certainly pleasant additions to the goings-on here,” writes the New Jersey Star-Ledger.
The cast is singled out by the Los Angeles Times for acting that “has a nice, low-pressure vibe, in contrast to the film’s high-pressure peril.” Likewise, Big Hollywood notes that the supporting cast “are genuine, though not likely to win any awards like Sandra Bullock from Alcon Entertainment’s hit The Blind Side.” (Dolphin Tale is also from Alcon Entertainment).
Roger Ebert predicts that the characters of Sawyer’s mom and Hazel’s dad (played by Judd and Connick), “both heading single-parent families, seem destined for romance, but perhaps that’s being reserved for the inevitable sequel.” He adds that director Charles Martin Smith, guides the “good cast with a firm hand.”
Judd and Connick previously worked together in the 2006 psychodrama Bug.
Besides Dolphin Tale, Judd’s other 2011 projects include Flypaper, with Patrick Dempsey and The Help‘s Octavia Spencer and the TV movie Missing, with Sean Bean and Keith Carradine.
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