Cutthroat Island Movie Poster Image

Cutthroat Island



Geena Davis brings girl power to the pirate ship.
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 1995
  • Running Time: 118 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

While it's great to see a strong, assertive female in the sort of testosterone-fueled action-hero role, the idea gets lost amidst the pillaging, plundering, and thieving. The bad guys (in addition to a pirate who's a worse outlaw and thief) are generally law-enforcers. One of them enthusiastically joins the pirates. Despite the Jamaican scenery, white people make up most of the cast.


Lots of sword fights/stabbings, fiery explosions, gun, and cannon fire. The heroine gets shot in the hip, and bullet is extracted without anesthesia.


Heroine gets dressed after sex in opening scene. She spends parts of the film dressed in tight-fitting and/or wet bodices, at one point masquerading as a prostitute. Much spoken sexual innuendo, crotch- and breast-groping, and references to body parts.


Mostly "hells," and "whore" used to indicate a prostitute.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Much drinking, especially by the heroine, and even by her monkey, and she snaps out of it with no ill effect.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the heroine here behaves every bit the way a roguish male action-hero would (think of James Bond especially). That means she's not only strong and assertive, resourceful and unyielding in hand-to-hand combat against villains, but also sexually active, non-monogamous, and able to drink any man under the table. She also gets bloodied quite a bit in fights (but recovers pretty quickly). At one point she disguises herself as a cleavage-baring prostitute.

What's the story?

This swashbuckling tale follows the adventures of lady pirate Morgan (Geena Davis), whose mortally wounded father bequeaths her his ship and crew, and tells her the location of the hidden map before he expires. But ambitious and greedy pirate Uncle Dawg (Frank Langella) is also after he fabulous treasure of plundered Spanish gold hidden on uncharted Cutthroat Island, and thus begins a booty-fueled race between Morgan and Dawg. Morgan needs a Latin scholar who can translate the map, so she buys one at a (white) slave auction of colonial prisoners. Enter the dashing Shaw (Matthew Modine), a con-artist thief who becomes Morgan's love interest.

Is it any good?


With massive sailing-ships and port cities in Malta and Thailand, the high-budget Cutthroat Island is a giddy swashbuckling pirate adventure that never stops moving with the action-cliffhangers. Aside from size and cost, the film's major difference from most other Hollywood pirate swashbucklers is that it's a roguish lass wielding the cutlass. Commendably, even with hunky Shaw on board, Morgan remains the take-charge central figure.

Still, Davis doesn't seem to know whether to play it straight or comedic, even though she throws her all physically into the demanding role. Kids might especially like Morgan's expressive pet monkey. Parents might not favor her lifestyle, with its glorified drinking and (non-explicit) action-hero sex. But the films opens up discussion about real female pirates, such as Anne Bonny and Mary Read.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the gender-switch in the character of Morgan. Do you think this swaggering pirate woman makes an effective heroine or not? If much the movie had been done with a male lead instead (picture a favorite like Jackie Chan or Tom Cruise) how would that have changed the storyline? Would audiences have accepted the movie more? You could discuss sexual equality (and double standards) in real-life situations, such as jobs and sports, and even the few historical records of actual lady pirates.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 22, 1995
DVD/Streaming release date:May 22, 2007
Cast:Frank Langella, Geena Davis, Matthew Modine, Maury Chaykin
Director:Renny Harlin
Studio:Artisan Entertainment
Run time:118 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:some strong pirate action/violence and brief sensuality

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Parent Written byconcernedpop August 25, 2014

morally indefensible, but fun

this is a decent pirate action film, but parents need to be aware that EVERY character falls under one or more of the following: liar, thief, traitor, murderer. There is not ONE character who can be called decent. Morgan, the female lead, is great for female empowerment, but she is just as bad as anyone else in the film. Their lust for robbery is so great that even after they have all the money they would ever need, they choose to go on robbing! Based on this, I would hesitate to recommend this to any impressionable or young children, and would think older teens would be fine. It is also very violent with tons of sexual innuendo.
Adult Written byjasonfl86 April 9, 2008

cutthroat island for red necks

All i can really say about this movie is that jeff foxworthy must have had his friends ron white and larry the cable guy write, edit act in and produce this movie
Kid, 11 years old July 4, 2015


Little bit iffy but I watched it when I was 5 and any bits about sex or strippers just glossed over my head - the violence isn't THAT gory, my motto is: if you play call of duty or gta, this film will be fine :) Really good film though.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking