This modest boy-and-his-killer-whale story was a surprising, if carefully orchestrated, summer success. FREE WILLY's ads asked, "How far would you go for a friend?" but a more probing query to parents would be "How much will you sit through for your kid?" Shamelessly manipulative and
heavyhanded, it may be an endurance test for those not absolutely entranced by large aquatic mammals.
A killer whale is separated from his family, shipped to an amusement park, christened Willy and expected to entertain. Meanwhile, runaway Jesse (Jason James Richter) survives on the streets by stealing and begging. Jesse finds new foster parents and must clean up the graffiti he sp...