A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Captain Johnson encourages Jim to "listen, think, and respond" -- to exercise self-control in the heat of a stressful moment instead of losing his temper and making rash decisions.
Positive Role Models
Despite being a rum-drinking pirate from a distant time, Captain Johnson encourages Jim to be calm and thoughtful in his responses to stressful situations and wants to help Jim and his family keep their tavern from being bought out by a greedy and unscrupulous businessman.
Violence & Scariness
Cannon fire. Burning ships. A tween boy is bullied by a classmate who has also trained his dog to chase after and try to attack the boy. Sword-fighting resulting in blood.
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Occasional profanity: "bastard," "hell," "damn," "son of a bitch," "Jesus." Reference to it being "brown-pants time."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
An older man presumed to be a sea captain drinks rum. He offers rum to a tween boy; when the tween boy refuses, the man turns the refusal into an opportunity to teach a lesson on the importance of being good. When a father and his sons arrive at the inn clearly drunk, the older man continues to buy them beer, getting them drunk enough to fall for a trap he has planned.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Pirate's Passage is a 2015 animated feature based on the 2007 book of the same title. There's some occasional profanity ("son of a bitch," "bastard"). There is some bullying -- a bully trains his dog to act vicious and chase after his classmate. There's also some action violence: sword-fighting leading to blood and ship battles with cannon fire and burning ships. One of the lead characters frequently drinks rum, and in one scene, an unscrupulous businessman stumbles into an inn he wants to buy out with his two sons. They are drunk and rowdy, and the rum-drinking lead character buys beers for them so that they become so drunk they are easily manipulated into falling for a scheme that leads to them falling into the cold ocean. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Based on a popular YA fiction novel, this adaptation is enjoyable for adults as well as tweens due to the air of mystery surrounding Captain Johnson and in how the story never condescends. Pirate's Passage also goes far in challenging the depictions of pirates in media and popular culture, suggesting that some pirates are/were actually good and that some of the worst pirates live on land and have more sinister ways of looting the innocent. It's an accessible tale that mixes coming-of-age elements with history and pirates of the past with the timeless struggles of making ends meet.
Where it falls short is in the action itself. The schemes to outwit the rapacious businessman of the village and his boorish bullying sons feel like something from a Scooby-Doo episode (sans the masks and talk of "meddling kids"), to say nothing of the fight scenes toward the end. These moments cheapen the seriousness of an otherwise unique story filled with imaginative historical recreations of old pirate battles as well as the culture of a Nova Scotian village in the 1950s. Nonetheless, for fans of stories centered on pirates that deviate from standard "yargh, matey" fare, Pirate's Passage is an original take on familiar themes.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.