Pirate's Passage

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Pirate's Passage Movie Poster Image
History-based pirate tale has drinking, mild profanity.
  • NR
  • 2015
  • 88 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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

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. 

Sex
Language

Occasional profanity: "bastard," "hell," "damn," "son of a bitch," "Jesus." Reference to it being "brown-pants time." 

Consumerism
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. 

What 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. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byGiovanni G March 11, 2018

Really stands out from today's films

I find that this film is absolutely phenomenal. For example, the quality of the animation is top notch. For a film that's in the format of a cartoon style,... Continue reading
Parent of a 8 year old Written byJulie S. January 3, 2018

I really enjoyed this movie!

This movie was awesome. I really liked the style of the animation. I was surprised that is was made in 2015 as it looked much older. The relationship between Ca... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byShadowHunter300 December 16, 2017

from a teen's point of view

It's an incredibly fantastic movie. it's an adaptation of the book Pirate's passage (2006) and is different from the "argh, ye shall walk th... Continue reading

What's the story?

In Grey Rocks, Nova Scotia, in November 1952, a small ship is forced ashore during a storm, and its pilot, Captain Charles Johnson (voiced by Donald Sutherland), takes up temporary residence at a struggling inn where a tween boy named Jim (Gage Munroe) lives with his mother (Carrie-Anne Moss). Jim is the target of a bully at school, who has trained his dog to attack him when he rides by on his bike; this bully's father is an unscrupulous businessman scheming to buy out the struggling inn from Jim's mother. But as Jim gets to know Captain Johnson as he sits by the fire drinking rum, he is transported and seemingly immersed in the world of pirates and their battles from over 200 years ago -- which is fortunate, as Jim is trying to write a paper for school about pirates. But Captain Johnson also teaches Jim lessons in self-control by admonishing him to "listen, think, respond" before making any rash decisions and showing ways in which Jim and his family can fight back against the bully's family. But there's even more to Captain Johnson, and as the mystery is slowly revealed, Jim and his mother make incredible discoveries that have the potential to change their lives forever. 

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. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about movies adapted from books. What do you think would be some of the challenges of turning a book into a movie? 

  • In what ways does this movie contradict the common perceptions of pirates, especially as portrayed in media and popular culture?

  • How can you learn more about the history of pirates?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love pirates

Our editors recommend

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.

See how we rate

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

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate