A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
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?
- In theaters: May 20, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: October 18, 2011
- Cast: Geoffrey Rush, Ian McShane, Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz
- Director: Rob Marshall
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 128 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense sequences of action/adventure violence, some frightening images, sensuality and innuendo
For kids who love pirates
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.