As parents browse video store shelves in search of family-friendly fare, the more cynical among them might casually dismiss Zeus and Roxanne as an uninspired Benji-meets-Flipper ripoff. Not so fast. Despite its obvious comparisons, this new release has a good heart, likable characters and caring relationships that offer families more than a tired “save-the-dolphin” escapade.
The story begins when a recently widowed composer, his shutterbug son and their dog Zeus move next door to a marine biologist and her two rambunctious teenage daughters. Zeus quickly thrusts the families together by bonding with mom’s pet project, a wild dolphin named Roxanne. The animals’ unique ability to communicate attracts the attention of a rival scientist bent on capturing Roxanne for his own selfish porpoises, uh, purposes. Meanwhile, the children conspire to create a romantic spark between their single parents. As one might expect, everyone lives happily ever after.
Along the way, the movie condemns selfishness and environmental irresponsibility. It esteems kindness, communication, chivalry, friendship, the institution of marriage and standing up for what’s right. Issues of romantic love are handled modestly between adult characters.
Parents of young children should be aware of several awkward moments. Zeus relieves himself on the bad guys. There’s one mild profanity. The kids lie to get their parents on the phone with each other. Though the sisters’ rebellion is never mean-spirited or self-destructive, they have a knack for finding trouble. On several occasions, the children try to set their parents straight on things, which comes off sounding disrespectful.
Lighthearted entertainment? Definitely. And some older teens may not find it as riveting as their younger siblings. But with the soothing, crystal-blue waters of the Bahamas as a backdrop, the makers of Zeus and Roxanne provide a better-than-average genre film with a sweet sense of humor, romantic innocence and positive messages about life.