Dork Hunters and the Pirates of Tortuga Island

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Dork Hunters and the Pirates of Tortuga Island Movie Poster Image
Stereotypes abound in lame animated adventure.
  • NR
  • 2010
  • 62 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Anti-authority messages, plus some greed, and all sorts of stereotyping.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Lots of stereotypes here. A white girl acts materialistic and brags of owning 45 swimsuits, is inclined to use phrases like "like, totally!" An African-American girl stands out from the pack by saying words like "Yo!" and "Girlfriend..." Inexplicably, a talking fish speaks like a Jewish comedian performing in the Catskills circa 1958, peppering his speech with Yiddish words. The boys speak entirely in surfer cliches. Authority figures like principals are "dorks." A chihuahua acts remarkably like Stewie from Family Guy.

Violence

Cartoonish violence. A dog throws a knife at the wall so a map hangs from it. Characters are pushed and fall into a deep pit. A dog shoots a laser gun at a pirates chest, poking a giant hole inside until the pirate dies. A dog dreams of hurling a shuffleboard puck into the mouth of his owner.

Sex
Language

Unsurprisingly, the word "dork" is frequently used here.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dork Hunters is a lame animated adventure filled with gender, racial, and cultural stereotypes. A white girl only cares about materialistic goods; an African-American girl stands out from the pack by using words like "Yo!" and "Girlfriend!" The boys speak in the wornout cliches of California surf culture circa 1981, and a fish speaks like Jackie Mason, with Yiddish words peppering his speech.

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What's the story?

To kick off summer vacation, the Dork Hunters fly to the Tortuga Islands, hoping for some sun and relaxation. Instead, they confront their principal and her evil chihuahua, who have plans to find buried treasure. The evil chihuahua recruits a group of pirates to find the treasure. Interested in finding the treasure for themselves, the Dork Hunters must do battle with the pirate ghosts and all the others who stand in their way.

Is it any good?

DORK HUNTERS AND THE PIRATES OF TORTUGA attempts to derive much of its humor from lame gender, race, and cultural stereotypes. As such, there isn't a single likeable character. Quite the opposite. Both the good and bad guys are so tediously annoying, it's impossible to care who wins the treasure in the end. When the ghost pirates and all their "Yarrrrgh, mateys" seem like the most original characters, you know you're in trouble.

Even with the overuse of the word "dork," it's difficult to imagine kids watching this and being anything but thoroughly bored. There are plenty of animated adventure stories out there where the female characters don't act like shopping and suntans are their sole interests and male characters don't act like monosyllabic surfer burnouts. Skip this and seek out something better.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about stereotyping. What's the problem with stereotyping? What are some examples of it in this cartoon?

  • Why is stereotyping also a sure sign of below-average storytelling?

  • What are more interesting and creative ways to make characters stand out from each other besides resorting to overdone and passe stereotypes?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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