Free Willy

Free Willy

4.6 6
Director: Simon Wincer

Cast: Jason James Richter, Jayne Atkinson, Lori Petty

     
 

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The touching story of a boy and his killer whale made this family drama a surprise box office hit. Jesse (Jason James Richter) is a kid without parents who has bounced from one foster home to another and is living on the streets. One night, he's caught spraying graffiti with his friend Perry (Michael Bacall) in a theme park. Jesse and Perry are caught red handed by

Overview

The touching story of a boy and his killer whale made this family drama a surprise box office hit. Jesse (Jason James Richter) is a kid without parents who has bounced from one foster home to another and is living on the streets. One night, he's caught spraying graffiti with his friend Perry (Michael Bacall) in a theme park. Jesse and Perry are caught red handed by Dwight (Mykel T. Williamson), a policeman who thinks that Jesse needs a more stable and disciplined environment. Dwight arranges for Jesse to stay with a new foster family, Glen and Annie Greenwood (Michael Madsen and Jayne Atkinson), with whom Jesse has an initially stormy relationship. Part of Jesse's punishment involves cleaning up the damage he caused at the park, where the new attraction is Willy, a killer whale who is being trained to do tricks. However, Willy was traumatized when he was stolen from his family by mercenary fisherman and does not respond well to the genuine concern of his trainers, Rae (Lori Petty) and Randolph (August Schellenberg). Jesse and Willy, both stranded without families in a place where they don't fit in, develop a close emotional bond, and with Jesse's help, Willy begins to display aptitude as a performer. Thanks to his friendship with Willy, Jesse develops a new sense of responsibility and a healthier relationship with the Greenwoods. However, Dial (Michael Ironside), the owner of the park, doesn't much care for animals and isn't happy with the slower-than-expected progress of Willy's training; having insured the whale for $1 million dollars, he figures that Willy is worth more dead than alive, and Jesse, Rae, and Randolph have to rescue their aquatic friend and return him to the ocean when Dial seems ready to live up to his threats. Free Willy, which featured a star performance by a killer whale named Keiko (who is doubled in some scenes by animatronic models) included the theme song "Will You Be There," a top-ten hit for Michael Jackson, and spawned two sequels.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Donald Liebenson
This tenth anniversary edition of one of the most popular family films of the last decade is sure to make a big splash with a new generation. Jason James Richter stars as 12-year-old Jesse, a rebellious foster child who finds a kindred misfit spirit in Willy (played by the magnificent Keiko), an orca whale who is the featured attraction at the dilapidated local theme park. Encouraged by the sympathetic trainer (Lori Petty) and the park's handyman (August Schellenberg), Jesse and Willy form a bond, and Jesse becomes the whale's trainer. But when the greedy park owner (Michael Ironside) decides that Willy, like George Bailey, is worth more dead than alive, Jesse races against time to rescue his newfound friend and return him to the ocean. A whale of a tale, this film launched a real-life "Free Willy" crusade for Keiko, who was rescued from his own deplorable living conditions in captivity.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/20/1995
UPC:
0085391800033
Original Release:
1993
Rating:
PG
Source:
Warner Home Video

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Jason James Richter Jesse
Jayne Atkinson Annie Greenwood
Lori Petty Rae Lindley
August Schellenberg Randolph Johnson
Michael Madsen Glen Greenwood
Michael Ironside Dial
Richard Riehle Wade
Mykelti Williamson Dwight Mercer
Michael Bacall Perry
Danielle Harris Gwenie
Lynda Gordon Actor
Judy Taylor Actor
Tom Lasswell Brody
Keiko the Killer Whale Willy
Betsy Toll Passerby 1

Technical Credits
Simon Wincer Director
Tom Benedek Screenwriter
Corey Blechman Screenwriter
O. Nicholas Brown Editor
Charles Butcher Art Director
Mark Cotone Asst. Director
Richard Donner Executive Producer
April Ferry Costumes/Costume Designer
Penelope L. Foster Co-producer
Harold L. Fuhrman Set Decoration/Design
Robbie Greenberg Cinematographer
Doug Merrifield Associate Producer
Arnon Milchan Executive Producer
Basil Poledouris Score Composer
Pete Romano Cinematographer
Charles Rosen Production Designer
Lauren Shuler-Donner Producer
Charles Skouras Production Designer
Richard Solomon Co-producer
Jennie Lew Tugend Producer
Harry Tugend Producer
Jim Van Wyck Asst. Director,Co-producer
Keith A. Walker Original Story,Screenwriter
Tom Ward Special Effects
Pamela Westmore Makeup
Diane Yates Art Director

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Free Willy 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Free Willy(1993) I think this is a great movie for young adults and children. Jason James Richer played a 12 year old named Jesse. Simon Wincer, the director, did a great job putting together Free Willy. The plot of this movie is about a boy learns that a beloved killer whale is to be killed by the aquarium owners. The boy risks everything is an effort to try to free the whale. The moral of this movie was so that we all need to help kids that struggle with learning and struggle with their home life. Like Jesse everyone needs to know how to make friends and be loved by things other than humans. Free Willy was rated PG, and first appeared in theaters in 1993. This movie has made a difference in my life as a little girl growing up. I didn't like people a lot and now it’s easy for me to make friends.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Jesse is a young boy orpahned by his mother at a young age. He constantly runs away from the foster homes. He has high hopes of finding his mom. Willy is a killer whale separated from his family by a commercial enterprise interested in using him as a tourist attraction. When Jesse is made to clean up a grafffiti mess he made, he and Willy meet. Both have something in common; they are away from their true families. This fact brings these two together in a thrilling story of how a boy can find good companionship in a whale. I found this movie to be both exhilarating and heart warming.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a sensitive man and I wear my heart on my sleeve and I have no problem admitting to the world that this movie made me cry for two weeks straight. I couldn't go to work, I couldn't eat, I could barely drink. I cannot watch the second in fear that I will cry again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This film was so touching about a boy and a whale, who are both motherless, and it really lifts my spirits and moves me when Jesse (the boy) trains Willy and later frees him into the waters of the Pacific. Very delightful, charming, and heartfelt!