A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Depictions of trespassing, vandalism and living rough on the city streets. Climax has good guys breaking the law in order to save Willy the Whale.
Positive Role Models
Jesse is a street-wise delinquent who learns about friendship and love from Willy the whale.
Violence & Scariness
One brief fistfight.
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None, unless you count the boy hero's angry use of "screw."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie is farfetched, but it's also very enjoyable. Plot complications (like insurance fraud) may be a little complex for many younger viewers. But kids, particularly animal lovers, will want to see this. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Free Willy's plot is predictable, none-too-original, and the title gives away the end. But FREE WILLY works swimmingly, thanks to well paced, rousing direction and a fine ensemble cast, led by the very good child actor Richter. Even with its excessive ecological propaganda, the script buoys up with surprisingly credible bonding between the alienated delinquent and a penned-up creature who, like King Kong or E.T., isn't bad; he just wants to go home. It's a cheerable, feel-good moment when the father joins his adopted son in the finale.
Longtime screen villain Michael Ironside plays the standard Hollywood-issue evil businessman, and parents should be aware of the animal-liberation indoctrination in the premise. At least the filmmakers followed their own preaching, and campaigned for the freeing of Keiko, the actual killer whale who stands in for an animatronic Willy in many scenes.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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