When it comes to dolphins, one thing we can all agree on is that, no matter what your opinion about those animals is, their gracious movement and benevolent character leave no one indifferent. That’s why movies about dolphins are almost always a sure thing when it comes to experiencing heartwarming and adventurous moments in a movie. So, in this article, we bring you some of the best movies about dolphins you just need to watch!
1. Flipper ( 1996 )
We’ll start this list of best movies about dolphins with Flipper. Sandy Ricks, a young Chicago boy, is disturbed due to his parents going through a rough divorce, so his mother sends him for a vacation to his uncle Porter in the Florida Keys. After arriving, he has nothing but a bad attitude and anger because of his parents until he encounters a playful dolphin Flipper and a neighborhood girl Kim. And that is where the adventure begins.
2. Dolphin Tale ( 2011 )
Dolphin Tale follows a story of a young boy Sawyer who helps save a dolphin named Winter. Winter severely damaged her tail while getting stuck in a crab trap and then was rescued by the Florida coast and transported to Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Sawyer befriends an injured dolphin and motivates everyone around him to help by creating a prosthetic appendage to replace the dolphin’s tail.
A fun fact is that Dolphin Tale is based on a true story. In 2006, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium found a dolphin wrapped tightly in a crab trap line. They rescued the unlucky dolphin and transported him back to their facility.
3. Dolphin Tale 2 ( 2014 )
Dolphin tale 2 is a sequel to the movie mentioned just above. This movie continues the story of a rescued dolphin, Winter. After Winter’s mother, Panama, dies, Sawyer & Dr. Clay embark on an ambitious mission to find a companion for her so she can remain at the Clearwater Marine hospital as, according to USDA regulations, dolphins cannot be housed alone. For this reason, they found a young dolphin named Hope who unexpectedly showed up.
The movie has the theme of loyalty, friendship, and perseverance written all over it. It is a wholesome adventurous movie with the lovable characters from the first film reprising their roles.
4. The Cove ( 2009 )
The Cove is a truth-revealing documentary movie. The film is centered around the controversial international dolphin capture trade, specifically in the Taiji region of Japan. Activist Ric O’Barry who trained dolphins for the shows joined with filmmaker Louis Psihoyos and exposed the number of dolphins being slaughtered. The film argues that dolphin hunting, as practiced in Japan, goes beyond necessity and humane behavior.
5. Dolphin Reef ( 2018 )
Dolphin Reef is a documentary family movie narrated by Natalie Portman. It follows a young bottlenose dolphin, Echo, who needs to become independent. His mother, Kumu, tries to teach him how to find food when they depart for the Coral Reef home. Echo has learned how to survive in the ocean because of his mother, and the movie is a must-watch if you are looking for a dolphin movie, as it shows how teamwork and collaboration are important for survival.
6. Dolphin Island ( 2021 )
Dolphin Island is a drama family movie that follows a teenager, Annabel Coleridge, who lives with her grandfather on a Caribbean island. Annabel has an unusual friend, as dolphin Mitzy is her favorite companion.
Even though Annabel enjoys her time on the island, everything changed when her maternal grandparents show up with a lawyer and try to take her to New York under the pretense that it is for her own good. Anna and her friends need to find a way for her to stay on the island.
7. Dolphin Boy ( 2011 )
Dolphin Boy is a drama documentary movie centered around a teenage boy Morad from an Arab village in the north of Israel. When he experiences a violent attack, he disconnects himself from humans, remains silent, and stops talking.
To help him, Morad’s father takes Morad to meet dolphins in Eilat on the shores of the Red Sea. Aquatic therapy with dolphins helps Morad, but he refuses to go back. The movie is a great example of how humans can wreak havoc upon each other and how nature holds a healing power.
8. Eye of the Dolphin ( 2006 )
Following her mother’s death, 14-year-old Alyssa lives with her grandmother. After being kicked out of school, she is sent to live with her father, whom she had never met. Alyssa is having difficulty accommodating to a new place, but her adventure begins when she discovers that she can communicate with dolphins.
9. The Day of the Dolphin ( 1973 )
The Day of the Dolphin is a sci-fi thriller movie based on a novel of the same name. The storyline follows a Marine biologist couple, Jake and Maggie Terrell, who train dolphins to communicate with humans. When two of the dolphins are kidnapped, an investigation occurs. A conspiracy to murder the President of the United States is revealed, and Jake and Magie set off on a mission to rescue the dolphins and release them into freedom before it is too late.
10. Barbie Dolphin Magic (2017)
Barbie Dolphin Magic is an animated movie that follows the adventure of Barbie and her sisters. Barbie decides to visit Ken on the island where he is doing an internship, but while on the island, she stumbles upon a gemstone dolphin named Emerald trapped in a cove.
Barbie has to join hands with her new friend, Isla, to prevent a villain from completing his plans. Their adventure becomes complicated when Isla reveals who she is in reality. They work together to free Emerald so he can be reunited with the family. Even though it is an animated movie, it is a fun movie to watch for a younger audience.
11. Dolphin Kick ( 2019 )
This is a great family adventure movie. A young boy Luke and his brother befriend a lively and friendly dolphin named Echo. The brothers try to reunite Echo with a pod and face fishermen who are against their idea. Luke is struggling to get over his mother’s sudden death, and by helping Echo reunite with his species, he finds peace and courage to move on with his life finally.
12. Ace Ventura Pet Detective ( 1994 )
This comedy movie is about an animal detective Ace Ventura. He is well known for finding lost animals. After the kidnapping of the Miami Dolphin mascot, a bottlenose dolphin named Snowflake, he is hired for the case. After many mishaps including trouble with the Miami authorities, Ace Ventura eventually discovers the culprits and rescues the dolphin. A fun movie following the adventure of Ace Ventura in one of his adventures as a pet detective.
13. Free Willy ( 1993 )
The last three movies on this list are not about dolphins but are very popular when it comes to movies about aquatic animals. They were also often on my watchlist when growing up, so here they are. The first movie is Free Willy. The movie is based on a true story and is inspired by an orphaned boy Jesse who befriended a captive orca whale, Willy. Willy has been separated from his family and ended up in an amusement park.
The owner of the park had ill intentions and tried to use Willy to get insurance money. However, the friendship between Jessie and Willy eventually saves this orca whale. Heartwarming and adventurous movie to watch.
14. Free Willy 2 ( 1995 )
This is a sequel to the movie mentioned above. Jesse, now a teenager, lives with his adoptive parents after his birth mother’s death. When on a trip with his younger brother, Jesse unexpectedly encounters Willy, who now lives freely in the ocean.
However, when the accident occurs and the oil spill imposes an imminent threat on Willy’s and other orca’s lives, Jesse and his friends have to do whatever it takes to save the whales. A decent sequel and as heartwarming as the first one.
15. Free Willy 3 ( 1997 )
In the third installment of this franchise, Jesse is now 16 years old, and working for a research ship along with his old friend Randolph and oceanographer Drew. They met an illegal whaler John and his son Max who does not appreciate his father’s work. Jesse plays a harmonica tune that attracts Willy.
Jesse and his team convince the whalers to stop this cruel and illegal practice before Willy and the rest of his pod get hurt. We also get to witness the birth of Willy’s son. Another great installment and an adventure that will surely capture your heart.