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MH: Right. So my publicist tells me. IAM: Yeah. A couple of lawsuits were filed against us, but we fought back. IAM: So Miko, tell us how you got your child-like foot in the door of hollywood. MH: Just stuck it in. My dad was a wannabe filmmaker who tried to live vicariously through my success. IAM: What do you mean your father tried to kiss everyone? IAM: Miko is pretty Indian-ish.
When maladjusted orphan Jesse vandalizes a theme park, he is placed with foster parents and must work at the park to make amends. There he meets Willy, a young Orca whale who has been separated from his family. Sensing kinship, they form a bond and, with the help of kindly whale trainer Rae Lindley, develop a routine of tricks.
I remember Free Willy less as a film and more as a playground joke. The many jokes inspired by the potential misunderstanding of the title of — get this — a KIDS film were clearly the very apex of sophisticated humour. To complicate matters even more in this respect, the film led to a vocal movement to free Keiko, an effort that raised a lot of money, but seems to have been a limited success. Keiko was initially moved to a purpose built pool in Oregon, where his quality of life and his health were improved, but moving him to the ocean, which happened in , was less successful. After many years in captivity, it seems Keiko never integrated with a group of whales, and that he would almost always seek out human contact. Keiko died in , aged 27, about 18 months after being returned to the wild. The morals of all this are, to my mind, too knotty and contradictory to attempt to untangle here, but the story does give Free Willy a strange undertone in retrospect and trying to entirely separate that from the film can be a challenge.