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Pirates of the Plain
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the 1999 children's adventure comedy, Pirates of the Plain, is a mashup of time travel fantasy and Home Alone. Bobby is a Nebraska farm boy with an active imagination, who encounters a real 17th century pirate inexplicably thrown to a Midwest 20th century wheat field, where Jesse James booty is waiting to be dug up by a wily map reader. Violence is plentiful, with cannons, sabers, and all manner of garden equipment in the arsenal, but it's all played for comedy. "Hell" is mentioned and references above the heads of most kids are made to the slave trade and what deprived pirates might do to a woman if she happened to appear on their ship.
What's the story?
The plain of PIRATES OF THE PLAIN is a wheat farm in Nebraska where 8-year-old Bobby (Seth Adkins) lives. His dad took off two years ago, leaving him and his mom (Dee Wallace Stone) and grandpa (Charles Napier) struggling to keep up mortgage payments on their spread. A dastardly banker is scheming with a real estate developer to take the farm even though the bank is actually in no hurry to foreclose. After Granddad falls while prepping the farm for a big storm, the imaginative Bobby is inexplicably left alone at the house, a perfect set up for welcoming the 17th century pirate Jezebel Jack (Tim Curry) as he falls out of the sky for no particular reason. A search for treasure and a battle with the crew of a ship that falls out of the sky bonds Bobby and Jack.
Is it any good?
Young kids looking to while away a rainy afternoon may be amused by this cheerful but illogical fantasy. It's "Home Alone with a Pirate," and the interior reasoning is shaky but once it gets going the bubbly Tim Curry spreads his enthusiasm, scarcely able to suppress his delight at playing the absurdly, larger-than-life parody of a pirate, Jezebel Jack. Still, the grownups watching Pirates of the Plain will shake their heads in wonder when Mom drives her injured father to the hospital but leaves her 8-year-old alone in the house while a large storm is heading their way. Of course, Bobby has to be alone for the story to work. Be ready to suspend disbelief.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how a lonely boy whose father is gone would be inclined to imagine exciting and dramatic characters and scenarios. How do you think his fantasies help him cope with his loss in Pirates of the Plain?
A cheating banker who is trying to steal the Jenkins' farm for profit is made to seem far more dangerous and terrible than a boatload of pirates who kill and rob on a regular basis. Do you think his deceit is so terrible that it makes Jack turn himself around?
How does this movie compare to other fantasy adventures? Does it matter that the plot doesn't always seem believable?
What is suspension of disbelief? Were you able to use it to enjoy the story?
For kids who love adventure
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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.