The forthrightly activist but fun-loving documentary The Cove has a natural hero and reformed sinner in Richard O’Barry, a former trainer of dolphins for the popular 1960s television series Flipper, who now spends his days slipping into Japan in silly disguises, getting arrested by undercover police, or being attacked by irate fishermen at the pretty cove where dolphins are culled for export or are killed. O’Barry is far from the only performance artist in this rousing blend of horror movie and farce. Juiced by director Louie Psihoyos’ showboating instincts and righteous rage — he’s Michael Moore minus the bile and self-importance — The Cove is an exuberant and often funny story of how a team of authority-averse stuntmen, divers and designers worked together to record the mass murder of these lovely mammals. Skillful and entertaining as it is, I’m not sure The Cove would be as potent if the subject were less attractive. A made-for-Disney subspecies if ever there was one, dolphins are the Goldie Hawns of endangered species — bright, funny, playful and, by some freak of nature, appearing to be grinning most of the time. The Cove is properly enchanting, horrifying and rousing, but it comes dangerously close to making the narcissistic case that dolphins deserve to be saved because they’re cute and they breathe air like we do. But then where does that leave the overfished salmon I went home to poach after the movie?