A troubled teenage girl, addicted to eyeliner and her iPod, has been expelled from school for smoking pot one too many times after her mother drowned in a boating accident. Her grandmother, played by a much-aged Katharine Ross, takes her to the Bahamas, where—surprise!—the girl's long-lost father, a dolphin researcher, has been living all this time. After a rocky start to their rapprochement, she swims with the dolphins and reconsiders her bad-girl image. Don't try counting the number of times this story has been done before—you'll run out of fingers. Although not as squeaky clean as Flipper or any other Disney variant on the same theme, the acting is just as cringe-worthy. Carly Schroeder, better employed in Mean Creek and the recent soccer flick Gracie, struggles with the corny role of troubled young Alyssa. As her father, Adrian Dunbar also has difficulty lending realism to such a trite character. The only bright spots are Jane Lynch (Best in Show), as the father's dolphin-hating nemesis, and Christine Adams, as his Bahamian girlfriend. She manages to play her role sincerely, without gooping on excess emotion. The script for Dolphin was probably salvaged from the Olsen twins' trash heap, where it should've remained.
Disclaimer: Movie does not actually contain this scene, but would be better if it did.
Opens at Meridian and Bellevue Galleria, Fri., Aug. 24. Rated PG-13. 100 minutes.