Anne T. Donahue
July 11, 2014 2:07 pm

Do you guys remember Flipper? JUST KIDDING of course you do why else are any of us even here. The thing about Flipper is this: I hate animal movies. I do. I’m sorry. I hate them because in the end, somebody always says goodbye (it’s usually the human to the animal), and I end up bawling my face off even though this is a scripted project that people got paid to make. I know it’s irrational. But I also message Leonardo DiCaprio on Twitter every day, so.

However, Elijah Wood has won me over. Or did win me over. Or always will win me over. Let’s be honest: when I was 11 in 1996 (when Flipper was made), Elijah Wood ruled all. He and JTT owned the teen magazine circuit, and I remember thinking, “Yep, we will probably date, Elijah and I.” We did not. But I did watch Flipper! And with Flipper came some life lessons because that’s what the movies of our youth are all about. (And Elijah Wood, if you are reading this, I still think we’d make pretty good pals.)

1. Animal movies will always make you cry

They will ALWAYS. This is probably the only lesson that really matters in the world, so I’ll make it crystal clear: if an animal is the star of a movie, you will weep. You will weep if they die, you will weep if they are Free Willy, you will weep if they are animated, you will weep if it’s Bandit coming home at the end of Homeward Bound. I wept here because dolphins are obviously basically humans. But not (because they are dolphins). Meaning, in my imagination, Flipper was experiencing the full range of human emotions.

2. Sandy should be grateful he got to stay in Coral Key instead of seeing the Red Hot Chili Peppers

I know Elijah Wood’s character’s name is Sandy, but this is the last time we’ll be using it. So that being said: it is insane that Elijah Wood, at that age, was even ALLOWED to get tickets to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and it is a blessing from whatever higher powers that be that prevented him from going. I mean, no offense to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but they’re not a band for the kiddos. Not now, not then. I mean, imagine Elijah Wood just hanging with a bunch of rock stars with socks around their . . . feet. Exactly! It makes no sense. Praise Coral Key. It saved Elijah Wood’s life.

3. The world is filled with Dirk Morans

Now I don’t mean literally, although yes, real ones obviously exist. But Dirk Moran (played by MIKE FROM BREAKING BAD) hates everything that stands in his way, and refuses to use #logic which I find is a thing that happens to a lot of adults. Where is the logic, adults? Why are you shooting at proverbial dolphins? (And in terms of the movie, what is your problem, Dirk Moran? Honestly, like, what damaged you?) But anyway. We will all come up against Dirk Morans. Unfortunately, they will not always be in Coral Key. They will probably be at work. And since we can’t lie about dolphins or outsmart them, we will simply have to print out of photo of Dirk and leave it taped to their computers. They’ll get what it means.

4. I was not smart enough to be Elijah Wood or Kim in this movie

In case you’re not up-to-date on your Flipper know-how, Elijah Wood and Kim realize that in order to survive, Flipper needs food. So they teach him tricks and charge one-fish admission at the door, meaning they are both feeding Flipper and finding themselves quite the hobby. Do you know what I was doing at their age? Watching a movie called Flipper. And then, maybe a few weeks later, I tried to open a lemonade stand using a piano bench as the table I tried to serve warm Kool-Aid on. Even now, I couldn’t do what they did. I am 28 years old, and even at this age, there is no way I’d think to charge audiences fish admission to keep a dolphin alive. I’d probably just call the police, hoping for the best. Which explains why I’ve been banned from 911. (I’m kidding! OR AM I?)

5. Scar from The Lion King is scarier than Scar from Flipper

And I say this because Scar from The Lion King actually plotted the murder of his brother in an attempt to ruin the life of his nephew. He literally thought of and then executed this plan. He’s a murderer. Scar, the shark from Flipper, is just a shark. He’s just living his life. Dude’s just trying to get a bite to eat (all puns intended). He’s not conspiring to kill Flipper specifically. He’s just thinking, “I am a shark. And I need to eat.” And it’s as simple as that, so we can’t truly fault him for living life on the food chain. THIS HAS BEEN A PSA.

6. Porter might be out of his mind

Here’s a life lesson: if a parent or authority figure tries to teach anyone a lesson by making him smoke cigars until he throws up, that parent or authority figure is deranged. However, he is NOT as deranged as Dirk, who tries to kill a dolphin! WHAT IS THIS? Then, when Porter tries to set the dolphin, aka Flipper free, Dirk threatens him. Clearly there’s something else going on around here. No person should have a “moral enemy.” No other person should have a dolphin agenda. Just. . . live your lives. Pay admission with fish. Do not dump toxic chemicals into the water.

7. Dirk is actually a felon

Because first, I think it’s illegal to kill a dolphin, is it not? Second, he POISONS THE WATER. WHAT?! That is AGAINST THE LAW. And also: if Flipper was made in 2014, this movie would be a lot different because instead of telling the sheriff about the poison dump, they could just show him the video they took with their phones a la Veronica Mars (the movie aka my religion).

8. Nothing in the world is worse than Flipper swimming away with his family

No, no not because we don’t want him to succeed, but because HE’S SWIMMING AWAY AFTER SAVING ELIJAH WOOD’S LIFE. See, Flipper saved Elijah! And then won us all over. And warmed our hearts. Then there he goes, swimming away, as if none of it mattered. As if he was a dolphin, reuniting with his pod. This — this — is what the ugly cry looks like. This is why I can’t watch animal movies. This is why I cry when I’m supposed to be happy. This is why I insist on cuddling my cat until I drive him away . . . like Flipper. *Sobs*

9. All of our summers are horrible compared to Elijah Wood’s

This is something I wish I’d known as a child: your summer will never, ever be as good as Elijah Wood’s summer in Flipper because he put a MAN IN JAIL, and then SAVED ANIMALS. What did I do that summer? I joined a reading club at the library and blitzed through every Lurlene McDaniel book known to civilization. I saved myself from UV rays. I did not save a dolphin. And as such, Elijah Wood’s character would’ve returned to school and been all, “Best summer ever!” and been completely unable to relate to any of his classmates again. This is why we needed Flipper 2.

10. If Elijah Wood’s character didn’t grow up to be a marine biologist, we’ll all have suffered

Is this something that they ever explored? Regardless, he owed it to us to pursue this avenue. And as a grown-ass woman, I’ve learned those who aren’t fulfilled in their careers turn into Dirk. Unless time really is a flat circle, and this movie was just about Elijah Wood fighting an older version of himself. #Deep

Images courtesy of Universal Pictures