Cozi Zuehlsdorff, Harry Connick Jr. and Morgan Freeman in Dolphin Tale 2.

Call this one The Empire Strikes Back of Dolphin Tale movies, in that it is slightly better than the original (not much—just slightly), and it has Tauntauns. (Actually, that last part’s not true.)

Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd and Harry Connick Jr. rejoin annoying child actorsNathan Gamble and Cozi Zuehisdorff(yes, the Cozi Zuehlsdorff) for another round of gooey sentimentality involving dolphins. This time, the story spends a lot of time focusing on rehabbing and releasing animals, rather than confining them for human amusement, probably due to all the current issues involving whales and dolphins in captivity.

In addition to Winter, the dolphin with the prosthetic tail, there’s a awesome sea turtle and a kooky pelican that kids will love. The movie works in some ways as educational fare, but when it drifts away from the aquarium tanks, it becomes a hell ride.

Harry Connick Jr. can’t act for beans; Ashley Judd’s career has really hit the skids; and Morgan Freeman has no right being within a million miles of this film. Gamble and Zuehlsdorff (yes, the Cozi Zuehlsdorff) are, I’m sure, exquisite human beings, but watching them in a movie is an annoying, tedious task.

I love the dolphins and aquatic life in this film. It’s the humans who drive me crazy.

Dolphin Tale 2 is playing at theaters across the valley.