- 1 hr 52 min
The 1993 film Free Willy focuses on the story of a troubled young boy who befriends a killer whale named Willy. In the movie, Jason James Richter plays Jesse, a 12-year-old boy who has been homeless since being abandoned by his mother a few years before. One night Jesse and a friend break into a water-themed amusement park and begin vandalizing the area. When a night watchman catches the pair, Jesse's accomplices get away and leave him behind. After getting caught, Jesse ends up in the care of a social worker who convinces a judge to let him enter foster care and do community service by working at the park to clean up the mess he and his friends made. While he is working, Jesse meets and befriends Willy, an orca that was captured in the wild and put into captivity in the hopes that he would become the park's main attraction. When that plan falls through following a disastrous performance that ends with Willy crashing into the safety glass and nearly breaking it, the park's owner has had enough. Instead of training Willy further, the park's owner hatches a plot to kill the whale in order to collect on an insurance policy. Jesse realizes the plan and enlists the help of friends and his foster parents to kidnap the whale and release him into the wild again. Other stars of the film include Michael Madsen and Jayne Atkinson as Jesse's foster parents, the Greenwoods; Michael Ironside as Dial, owner of the theme park; August Schellenberg as Randolph Johnson; Mykelti Williamson as Dwight Mercer; Danielle Harris as Gwenie; Lori Petty as Willy's trainer, Rae Lindly; and Richard Riehle as Dial's henchman, Wade. Additional credited cast members include Michael Bacall, Isaiah Malone, Nick Gardner and Alec Nichols. Keiko the Orca portrayed Willy in the movie.