Flipper (1996 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Alan Shapiro|
|Produced by||James McNamara
|Written by||Ricou Browning
|Music by||Joel McNeely|
|Edited by||Peck Prior|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
Flipper is a 1996 adventure film remake of the 1963 film of the same name, starring Paul Hogan and Elijah Wood. The movie is about a boy who has to spend the summer with his uncle, who lives on the Gold Coast. Although he expects to have another boring summer, he encounters a dolphin whom he names Flipper and with whom he forms a friendship.
Sandy Ricks is sent off for the summer to stay with his Uncle Porter in the seaside town of Coral Key. Initially, Sandy is unenthusiastic, and is upset that he's going to miss a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert which he already bought tickets for. His mood remains unchanged even after meeting Cathy, a local shopkeeper with whom his uncle carries on a flirtatious relationship, and Kim, a girl his own age.
While out on Porter's fishing trawler, the two meet Porter's arch enemy, Dirk Moran. Nearby, a pod of dolphins is frolicking near Dirk's boat. As a big game fisherman, Dirk makes it plain that he hates just about every other fish-eating animal on earth.
The next day, Porter and Sandy are paid a visit by the sheriff, Buck, who explains that they can't keep the dolphin unless he is in captivity. That night, Sandy and Kim set out on a dinghy to look for Flipper. They fail to locate the dolphin, but see men dumping barrels off of Dirk Moran's boat. The next morning, as Kim arrives looking for Sandy, Pete, Porter's pet brown pelican, comes running, as if asking her to follow him. Pete leads Kim to Flipper who is beached on the shore and sick.
Cathy determines that Flipper has been poisoned by toxic waste, which is also shown to have been ruining the local fishing. The group uses Flipper's gift of echolocation and a special camera attached to his head to help them locate the barrels of toxic waste. Flipper also manages to locate the rest of his pod, and reunites with them, in the process, dropping the camera. Porter heads back to alert the sheriff about the barrels. Sandy, however becomes concerned that something has happened to Flipper; without telling anyone except Cathy's young son, Marvin, sets off in the dinghy to find him.
Sandy barely survives an encounter with Dirk's boat, which dismantles the dinghy. He sees an approaching dorsal fin and mistakes it for Flipper, but it is actually Scar, the hammerhead shark. Sandy swims for his life, but Scar is faster. As Scar is about to attack Sandy, Flipper appears and starts nose-butting Scar in the gills. There is a harrowing moment when the shark proves stronger than Flipper, but Flipper's dolphin pod comes to his aid in the nick of time. Dirk Moran is arrested by the sheriff for illegally dumping toxic waste.
The next day, when Sandy's mom and sister arrive to pick him up, there is a commotion. It is Flipper, who has come to see Sandy off.
- Paul Hogan as Porter Ricks
- Elijah Wood as Sandy Ricks
- Jessica Wesson as Kim
- Jonathan Banks as Dirk Moran
- Bill Kelley as Tommy
- Chelsea Field as Cathy
- Isaac Hayes as Sheriff Buck Cowan
- Jason Fuchs as Marvin
- Robert Deacon as Bounty Fisherman #1
- Ann Carey as Fisherman's Wife
- Mark Casella as Bounty Fisherman #2
- Luke Halpin as Bounty Fisherman #3
The film was shot in the Bahamas. Animatronic dolphins, designed by Walt Conti and his team, had to be used extensively, such as in scenes where Flipper interacts with the human characters, or is shown swimming along. Conti stated that using real dolphins does not work as well as many might think.
Joe Leydon of Variety criticized the plot but appreciated the performances of Hogan, Wood, Wesson, Hayes and Field, as well as the animatronic work on the film. Dwayne E. Leslie of Boxoffice noted the scene where a hammerhead shark attacks a seabird, which brings to mind similar footage from National Geographic, may be shocking for very young children.
The film's tagline, "This summer it's finally safe to go back in the water." references the tagline of the 1978 feature film Jaws 2, "Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water..."
The film debuted at No. 2 with $4.5 million. Flipper ultimately grossed $20 million domestically, on a $25 million budget.
The film was released on DVD in 2003 by Universal Studios Home Entertainment, available in both 16x9 anamorphic widescreen and 4x3 fullscreen editions. In 2007, a widescreen-only print of Flipper was released in a four film package alongside The Little Rascals, Casper, and Leave It to Beaver (film). Dubbed "Family Favorites 4 Movie Collection: Franchise Collection", all four films are based on popular TV shows. Flipper was later released on Blu-ray on February 8, 2011.
- Brennan, Judy (1996-05-20). "Twister Sustains Box Office Momentum in 2nd Week". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-02-04.
- Leydon, Joe (1996-05-06). "Flipper Review". Variety. Retrieved 2009-11-16.
- Rickitt, Richard (2006). Designing Movie Creatures and Characters: Behind the Scenes With the Movie Masters. Focal Press. p. 167. ISBN 0-240-80846-0.
- Leslie, Dwayne E. (1 August 2008). "Movie Reviews: Flipper". Boxoffice. Retrieved 17 November 2009.
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