The Beau Lebowski?

I need an answer girl, can’t you see
I’m trapped again
Come and rescue me

— Southside Johnny

A rainy Sunday afternoon with my daughter–and this is the movie of choice.  I never appreciated the value of having plucky young girls as heroines in family films until I was the father of a plucky young girl.

Free Willy: Escape from Pirates Cove (2010), the fourth Willy film,  is a direct-to-DVD release that likely would drive you slightly batty if you didn’t have a plucky young daughter. It’s the story of an 11-year-old girl (Bindi Irwin, the daughter of the late Crocodile Hunter) who befriends a young orca.

And it is refreshingly free of princesses, magic, Hanna Montanas, talking animals, and snark. Irwin is smart, resourceful, serious, and–dare I say–a good role model.

Also, as an adult, you’ll never be happier to see Beau Bridges in your life than when he first pops up. It’s like seeing one other person you know at a party. And the word to define his performance is, well, Lebowskiesque. Sometimes it sounds as if he’s directly channeling his brother.

The South African scenery is lovely. The CGI whales, not so much.

By the way, this is a different whale. If the same Willy needed to be freed yet again, wouldn’t you start worrying about him?

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