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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Movie Poster Image
More swashbuckling + less violence = OK for older tweens.
  • PG-13
  • 2011
  • 128 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 34 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 99 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

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 & Representations

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.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides -- 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
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 par... Continue reading
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... Continue reading
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 s... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old October 2, 2012

CSM needs to mention these things!

CSM missed something: the mermaids are TOPLESS!!! I know, their breasts are usually covered by their hair, but in a shot seen from a distance you can see the... Continue reading

What's the story?

In PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) returns for another pirate adventure -- this time to find the Fountain of Youth. The fountain is also 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?

Depp's rummy rogue is clever and lovable as ever, and that's a big reason audiences are always willing to yo, ho, ho. 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. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides' 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.

Talk to your kids 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

For kids who love pirates

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