Welcome to 90 from the ‘90s; the movie-related post in which I watch, discuss and debate a film from the 1990s – a film that I’ve NEVER SEEN. Posting on a semi-regular basis, I aim to work my way through 90 movies that I’ve previously missed/avoided, recording my thoughts along the way.

I’m going to watch good films, bad films, forgotten classics, Oscar winners and everything in between. Some of these films you’ll be surprised I’ve never seen, others you’ll completely understand why I’ve avoided them for 20+ years.

The rules are as follows:

  • The film must be from the 1990s (1990-1999)
  • The film must be a movie I’ve not watched before

Today’s unseen ‘90s movie is…

Free Willy (1993)

*Raises hand*

My name is Alex Wiggan.

I have never watched Free Willy.

*Puts hand down*

I have never had a desire to watch Free Willy.

I don’t dislike whales or films featuring aquatic life, I have just never had any interest in this movie.

Plus… I know the captive whale is freed at the end of the picture.

Heck, they even put it on the poster…

Image: ©Warner Bros. Pictures

That is an actual shot from the poster!

You can clearly see the whale leaping to freedom. That’s like putting a picture of some people eating some other people on the poster for Soylent Green (1973).

I realise I’ve just given away a spoiler for Solyent Green.

Disregard what I’ve just said.

Swiftly moving on…

So yeah, I’ve never watched Free Willy; however, I feel like I have. Free Willy is a movie that has been referenced a lot over the years, in other media, so it’s the kind of film I’ve seen without actually watching.

Plus, Michael Jackson released a tie-in song which appeared on TV/the radio around the time of the movie’s theatrical release and that generated a lot of publicity for the film too. The poster + various references + Michael Jackson = Alex seeing a fair bit of Free Willy without actually seeing Free Willy.

Anyway, time to actually watch Free Willy.

*Clicks the play button*

5mins – Willy has been caught. He’s going to need to be freed.

6mins – And some kids are hungry. These kids are going to need to be fed.

7mins – This movie should be called The Porpoise and The Poverty.

8mins – This is the moment where you tell me that whales aren’t porpoise, isn’t it? OK, so (I think) porpoise are dolphins and not whales… but I could be wrong. Heck, feel free to tell me the difference between dolphins/whales/porpoise because I can’t be bothered to Google it I don’t know.

21mins – So, Jason James Richter is playing a homeless kid who has been fostered by Michael Madsen. He’s also doing some kind of community service at Sea World an aquatic amusement park which is not Sea World.

23mins – Is that Lori Petty?

23mins 15secs – It is Lori Petty! This film just got so much better.

30mins – Lori Petty has just (indirectly) confirmed that Willy is not a porpoise. So y’all don’t need to write in and tell me if whales are porpoise are the same thing – I now know they are not.

37mins – A couple of years ago, I watched the 2013 docu-film, Blackfish – a documentary about killer whales that are being kept in captivity. Watching Free Willy feels like I’m watching snippets of Blackfish. 😦

38mins – Michael Ironside is in this movie, playing an oily tycoon. Well, of course. If you need an oily tycoon it has to be played by Michael Ironside.

52mins – Jason James Richter and Willy are forming a special bond (or that’s what the movie wants me to believe). I’ll be honest, I’m not sure if this bond is real, or if Willy is just playing this kid for shits and giggles.

1hr 2mins – And now Jason James Richter is waffling on about his mother. I doubt Willy cares.

1hr 6mins – Michael Ironside is being oily again. This whole movie should be about Michael Ironside – he’s not had nearly enough screen time.

1hr 10mins – Willy seems cheesed off. Not about the lack of screen time for Michael Ironside (a valid reason to be cheesed off), but because living in this crappy aquatic amusement park is doing his head in. It’s doing my head in too. Someone free this whale!

1hr 22mins 45secs – “Let’s free Willy!”

1hr 23mins – FINALLY – someone has caught on to the point of this movie. Free this damn whale.

1hr 24mins – OK, so oily tycoon, Michael Ironside, and his oily underlings (yeah, I don’t know their names) are trying to kill Willy in order to claim insurance money valued at around $1 million. Jason James Richter is trying to thwart his plan by freeing Willy.

1hr 24mins 10secs – I really hope he frees Willy…

1hr 24mins 10secs – …Oh yeah, he does – the poster told me so.

1hr 30mins – You know, it would be quite interesting if Willy didn’t get freed now. Maybe the poster will turn out to be a red herring.

1hr 39mins – Willy is in the process of being freed. No red herrings today.

1hr 40mins – But wait – some last minute drama! Oily tycoon, Michael Ironside is throwing a spanner in the works. Could this turn Free Willy into Still Captive Willy?

1hr 44mins – Nah, Willy is free! He’s free! I never doubted it for a second.

1hr 46mins – And as the movie ends, the Michael Jackson song comes on.

1hr 46mins 30secs – I do like this song.

1hr 48mins 30secs – Disclaimer: “No whales were harassed or mistreated during the making of this film and all scenes involving a live animal were supervised by the American Humane Association.” Erm… that’s great, but didn’t Keiko the whale (aka Willy) die a decade later after struggling to adapt to the wild? This disclaimer doesn’t really mean a great deal in the grand scheme of things.

*Clicks stop*

Yeah… as a movie Free Willy was alright, but training a whale to appear in a movie about a captive whale is not something I can get on board. I’m aware that Keiko was eventually freed, but ultimately his release failed and that doesn’t make me feel great about this whole situation.

I’m not sure what else to say about that.

My big question now is, in terms of the movie series, if Willy is free how is there a Free Willy 2, 3 and 4? And wasn’t there a Free Willy cartoon at some point during the 1990s? Jeez, how many times did those b@$t@rd humans keep locking Willy up?!

*Shakes head*

For past entries in the 90 from the ’90s series, check out: The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996)Air Bud (1997)Robin Hood (1991)Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas (1999)Hercules and Xena: The Battle for Mount Olympus (1998)Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story (1993)Highlander II: The Quickening (1991)F/X2: The Deadly Art of Illusion (1991)Teaching Mrs. Tingle (1999)Showgirls (1995)American History X (1998)North (1994)Jack Frost (1998)Psycho (1998)A League of Their Own (1992)Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)Patch Adams (1998)My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992)You’ve Got Mail (1998)Sleepless in Seattle (1993)Graveyard Shift (1990)Johnny Mnemonic (1995)Striptease (1996) Indecent Proposal (1993)My Girl 2 (1994)The Ghost and the Darkness (1996)Poison Ivy (1996)Body of Evidence (1993)Turbulence (1997)Fatal Instinct (1993)True Romance (1993)Newsies (1992)Contact (1997)The Pelican Brief (1993)Natural Born Killers (1994)Shakespeare in Love (1998)A Perfect Murder (1998)Quigley Down Under (1990)Of Mice and Men (1992),Friday (1995)Mannequin on the Move (1991)She’s All That (1999)Double Dragon (1994)Stay Tuned (1992)Murder at 1600 (1997),Weekend at Bernie’s II (1993)My Own Private Idaho (1991)Wagons East (1994)In the Line of Fire (1993)Postcards from the Edge (1990)Universal Soldier (1992)Passenger 57 (1992)Mo’ Better Blues (1990)The Client (1994)Good Will Hunting (1997)Pump Up the Volume (1990)Mr. Nanny (1993) Fargo (1996)Hudson Hawk (1991)So I Married An Axe Murderer (1993) and Timecop (1994).