The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

By Rick Groen
Free Willy (for some strange reason, that tiny imperative just gives me the giggles) is a family picture that stays safely within the haven of a cozy formula, yet does a whole lot of inventive work in the process.
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By Leonard Klady
An astute, intelligent family picture, the film is a potent reminder that you can have your heart in the right place and still produce a gripping, satisfying entertainment.
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Los Angeles Times

By Michael Wilmington
There's a muscular sincerity to this movie, a power and spread to its imagery that triumphs over the occasional candied purple patches or strained plot twists. [16 Jul 1993 Pg. F1]
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Chicago Sun-Times

By Roger Ebert
The movie is sure to be appealing to younger viewers (they may find it more accessible and certainly less frightening than "Jurassic Park"), and it's smart enough to keep older viewers involved, too.
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Entertainment Weekly

By Owen Gleiberman
It's an irony too significant to ignore that the movie, which proselytizes against penning up whales in order to make them do cute tricks for humans, spends much of its time making Willy do cute tricks for humans.
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TV Guide

Shamelessly manipulative and heavyhanded, it may be an endurance test for those not absolutely entranced by large aquatic mammals.
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USA Today

By Mike Clark
The film does what it can to dramatize the bond, but Richter has a disproportionate acting load because his co-star's emoting is below the water line. Happily, he carries it. [16 Jul 1993 Pg. 08.D]
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By James Berardinelli
This is one of those unusual films that is capable of enthralling those under twelve while not sending older members of the audience rushing for the exit.
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Despite a cliched plot and some ropey performances, this is still a well-made and entertaining children's film.
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Austin Chronicle

By Marjorie Baumgarten
It's all pretty involving and sweetly ingratiating in a Charlotte's Web-by kind of way.
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79 out of 100
Generally favorable reviews
Metascore® based on all critic reviews. Scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.