The Day of the Dolphin (1973) Review

The tagline for this movie is “Unwittingly, he trained a dolphin to kill the President of the United States” No, really. That’s the tagline.

Day of the Dolphin cover art
No, really

One would expect this movie to be crazy. It has to be crazy. And to an extent, it is, but not the way you’d think. It’s not wacky-go-funtimes 70′s crazy. It’s actually deadly serious throughout the movie, and that’s why it’s crazy.

This is a movie that has us watching a man yelling orders to a dolphin to try and save the President from another dolphin. And, while that’s as ridiculous as it sounds, it actually works. You see… I actually liked this movie.

It starts with some shots of dolphins playing and learning tricks. This is great, because dolphins are awesome. They’re the smooth, swimming, dogs of the sea. (Or dogs are the furry dolphins of the land) (But then again, otters are more like the dogs of the sea… does that make dolphins the otters of the sea?) (No it doesn’t) We learn that the main character is a scientist that is training a dolphin named Pha (short for Alpha) to talk. And the dolphin talk is adorable… if dolphins really could talk, they’d sound just like this.

It’s easy to fall in love with the dolphins in this film. They are adorable and let’s face it, dolphins are friggin awesome. When the movie becomes a suspense thriller, you actually worry about the dolphins. You might shed a tear at the end… I mean… no you won’t? I sure didn’t… *cough*

Crying dude
There’s just sand in my eyes

It’s not a perfect movie by any stretch of the imagination. There’s a very slow build to the climax of the movie (the dolphins don’t talk until 50 minutes in and the assasination plot doesn’t begin to unfold until after an hour) A slow build isn’t a bad thing, but there are times where this movie’s pace can be glacial. Fat guys covered in syrup move faster.

Still, I really liked this movie. I like that it takes a ridiculous premise and treats it extremely seriously. I like that it has maybe the best “Oh shit” moment I’ve ever seen in a movie (seriously) I like that it has nonstop footage of cute little dolphins.

Final verdict: I want a talking dolphin Goddamnit!

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