A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this third film in the series has a slower, more deliberate pace (and a shorter running time) and a bedtime-story feel to this nature-loving sequel. That's good, since the audience for this sequel to the popular original aimed this film at 5- and 6-year-olds. Most older kids will find the eco-lessons labored andsimplistic. This film touts animal rights and vegetarianism. Some kids may want to become vegetarians after watching this film. On that note, a little boy faces down his fisherman/whaler father about the morality of Dad's occupation. Parents should decide how they want to present animal-rights issues to their children before acquiring this video.
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What's the story?
Whale poachers are at large in the second Free Willysequel, and Willy the Wonder Orca and boy hero Jesse must change the minds of harpoon-happy humans. FREE WILLY 3: THE RESCUE follows Jesse (Jason James Richter) as he helps with a whale research expedition. Jesse meets young Max (Vincent Berry), who tells him that he's learned that his dad's salmon fishing crew is really hunting killer whales. As in the other two films, Jesse sets out to save the whales and stop those who would harm them.
Is it any good?
This is the most lyrical and pretty-looking of the Willy adventures. As with the last two films in this series, there are painless rivulets of whale (and whaler) trivia streaming through the plot. Environmentalism also continues to be an issue. Free Willy 3: The Rescue is also the most brazen in pushing its animal-rights agenda on impressionable viewers. Parents should decide how they want to present animal-rights issues to their children before acquiring this video.
There is some balance, however. The marauding whaleboat crew are not demonized as kill-crazy monsters, but proud men carrying on a long heritage. Given the tone of these movies, that's as even-handed as you can get, even with the cliched finale in which Willy's good deeds raise the issue of whale sainthood. Not even fearsome spearguns and a heated saloon fight (between the whalers and Jesse's old pal Randolph) can boil a mist of niceness off the material. This softness will work better for the under 12s. Older viewers may yearn for a bit more edge.
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: February 24, 2005
- On DVD or streaming: January 28, 2003
- Cast: August Schellenberg, Jason James Richter, Patrick Kilpatrick
- Director: Sam Pillsbury
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Ocean Creatures, Wild Animals
- Run time: 86 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: thematic elements involving whale hunting, and for brief mild language
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