Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Movie Poster Image

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides



More swashbuckling + less violence = OK for older tweens.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Review Date: May 19, 2011
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 128 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Despite the fact that pirates are, by definition, thieves, the movie offers several positive messages about how parents should sacrifice for their children and how every being is worthy of being treated with kindness and respect.

Positive role models

Philip the missionary is very moral and helps keep Blackbeard from being sadistic whenever possible. He protects Syrena the mermaid and sacrifices his own safety for her. Angelica is a strong and fierce female character who can hold her own against male pirates. Jack and Barbossa, despite their past rivalries, are able to work together against Blackbeard.


Lots of sword fighting, some of which ends up in death but some of which stops just short of a kill. Also gun use and a brief explosion, and a pirate is punished by being sent on a longboat and then burned. A mermaid is captured and threatened with death; someone is poisoned, a man's throat is slit, and there are other scenes of swashbuckling and violence. But actual blood is minimal, and the body count isn't as high as in the other movies.


Captain Jack makes countless innuendos and jokes with double meanings. (A typical exchange: "What were you doing in a Spanish convent?"/"I thought it was a brothel -- honest mistake.") He whispers something presumably naughty to a woman who begins to swoon. Jack and Angelica dance and roll around on the floor, fighting and flirting. Random, rowdy pub patrons are briefly shown kissing (with one woman leading a man up the stairs), and two other couples kiss in more passionate exchanges


A couple of uses of "damn" and "my God," plus some pirate insults -- usually directed at Jack.


Nothing in the movie itself, but the Pirates franchise has loads of merchandising and toy deals, including LEGO sets, video and board games, costumes, and collectible figures.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Fewer drunk-pirate scenes than in the previous movies, but there's still a good bit of drinking (rum, wine) and alcohol-related humor.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the fourth installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean series is actually slightly less violent and creepy than the previous movies. But rum and wine do still flow in a couple of scenes, and there are loads of innuendo-laden comments (most thanks to Johnny Depp's iconic Captain Jack Sparrow) -- as well as all of the swordfighting, explosions, and felled pirates and soldiers that audiences are used to in this franchise. Though there are some deaths, none are bloody/graphic. And although this movie isn't an age-appropriate pick for young kids who might be frightened by some of the pirates and fighting, this shorter-and-simpler edition is fine for older tweens and up.

What's the story?

Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) returns for another pirate adventure -- this time to find the Fountain of Youth, which is being sought by the Spanish and English crowns and by the infamous Blackbeard (Ian McShane) and his daughter, Angelica (Penelope Cruz). Of course, Jack and Angelica have a past, so he agrees to help them beat the English -- who are being led by a reformed Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), who fancies himself a gentleman -- and the Spanish. To perform the eternal-youth-providing ceremony at the fountain, Blackbeard's crew must capture a mermaid, much to the horror of Philip (Sam Claflin), a young missionary who's been kept alive at the request of the surprisingly devout Angelica. Philip grows fond of the lovely mermaid, Syrena (Astrid Berges-Frisbey), as the various groups make their way closer and closer to the fountain's location.

Is it any good?


Director Rob Marshall has stripped away some of the overlong, puzzling plotlines and overdependence on CGI effects that marked Gore Verbinski's first three Pirates films, especially the second and third ones. The race for the Fountain of Youth is a simple, easy-to-follow premise; there are fewer extraneous characters to keep track of (remember all of those pirates in At World's End?); and Cruz and Depp have an entertaining, charming chemistry with each other that sizzles when they're trading barbs and half-dueling, half-flirting.

With the notable absence of Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom, whose star-crossed lovers Elizabeth and Will had closure to their story in the last installment, the good-looking-young-couple role is left to Claflin and Berges-Frisbey. But as sweet as they are, their forbidden-love subplot isn't nearly as moving as Elizabeth and Will's. McShane, on the other hand, has built an impressive career one villainous character at a time, so he's naturally fierce and frightening as Blackbeard. And music lovers will appreciate the flamenco-guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela's contributions to the soundtrack. Ultimately, though, audiences are always willing to yo, ho, ho because of Depp, and his rummy rogue is still clever and lovable.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of the Pirates movies. What makes these stories so compelling? Why are even the youngest moviegoers so drawn to pirates?

  • Even though pirates are technically thieves and "bad guys," it's hard not to root for characters like Captain Jack. Why is that? What would make him a villain?

  • Did you miss any of the characters from the earlier movies who weren't in this one? Why do you think the filmmakers decided not to bring them back?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 20, 2011
DVD release date:October 18, 2011
Cast:Geoffrey Rush, Ian McShane, Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz
Director:Rob Marshall
Studio:Walt Disney Pictures
Run time:128 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:intense sequences of action/adventure violence, some frightening images, sensuality and innuendo

This review of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent of a 4 and 8 year old Written byDulcie May 27, 2011

In love with Captain Jack all over again.

Hubby and I took our 8-year-old and 5-year-old. Yes, I said 5-year-old. Honestly I see worse violence and sexual situations on T.V. I am not a permissive parent - mature/teen video games are not allowed and I even block some what I consider to be cartoons with over-the-top violence. They have seen all the other Pirate movies so I didn't hesitate with this one. My 5-year-old was a bit disturbed by the fanged mermaids but we talked about fantasy vs. reality and I convinced him all of the sailors/pirates survived. There was one scene where Blackbeard incinerates a lifeboat with one of his crew who he wants to make an example of and I thought that was a bit darker and harsher than needed even though you don't see anything gory. Jack continues to be a larger than life pirate with a heart of gold who cares about the welfare of his friends including his first mate Gibbs, a missionary, and a beautiful ex-flame. The movie seems to show that governmental and personal greed will not triumph. There is no nudity, although the mermaids appear to have human female torsos, their breasts are covered or concealed. When one Mermaid grows legs on land she is quickly given a large shirt by the missionary. Jack and his ex-flame do some minor tusseling that has sexual overtones but that will fly over the heads of younger kids. As in the other movies there is lots of sword play and fighting and men do get killed but it is not glorified. In short - if you have seen the others there is no reason not to see this one. In fact I liked this one considerably more than At World End. Enjoy!
Teen, 13 years old Written byJaneEyre<3 June 7, 2011

Loved it!!

I really enjoyed this one,even the plot was a much less intricate than the others(almost a little sloppy),and a couple things were random. There was much more sexual references than the other three,but it was definitely not as violent as the others. Johnny Depp,Penelope Cruz and Geoffrey Rush.I mean,how much better can you get?(And even a 10 second appearance of Dame Judi Dench!!) I liked the mermaids ALOT.I mean,they were kinda scary for 10 and under,but my 10 year old brother really liked it in the theater and wasn't scared(at least,that's what he says). I thought it was well cast(and I'm glad they ditched Keira and Orlando).It is my second favorite one and 8/10 stars. &lt;3 ps. There is brief nudity with the mermaids(you don't actually see anything,it's blurred) except for one part,and even then you don't see anything.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Parent Written byBostonWriter May 22, 2011

Great adventure for the family

Despite the largely negative reviews from "professional" critics, the film is surprisingly entertaining. Lots of action, zombies that are scary enough (but not too scary) and some nice special effects combine to make this a great installment in the series. Jack Sparrow makes a few off-color innuendos but they sailed safely over the head of my 8yo. Catch it in IMAX 3D if you can.
What other families should know
Too much sex


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Star Wars Guide