Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Buoyant, farcical time-travel Enterprise escapade.
  • PG
  • 1986
  • 119 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 15 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Starfleet is racially and species-integrated, individually quirky but respectful and appreciative of differences. They function as a great team, working together for positive outcomes. Female characters, often on the sidelines or simply love interests, are particularly strong in this mission.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Kirk asks Spock to lie -- which Vulcans can't do, but he's able to "exaggerate" deceptively to achieve their mission. However, overall, Kirk and Spock demonstrate a strong friendship free of prejudice, and are willing to put the needs of others above themselves.


A brief flashback to a spaceship explosion from Star Trek III, but otherwise this is renowned as the Star Trek movie without a single shot fired in anger. One character does suffer a fall, and disastrous storms batter the Earth. Some stock footage of the killing and butchery of whales.


Mr. Spock tries to fit into 20th-century culture by swearing gratuitously ("colorful metaphors," he calls it), played as comedy. Words used include "Goddamn," "hell," "dumbass," and "dips--t." A punk gives Kirk and Spock the finger.


Apple computers get a plug, as well as the Yellow Pages and other 20th-century billboards. Star Trek itself is quite a commodity.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social drinking. Kirk explains Spock's alien ways to a 20th-century heroine by saying he did heavy drugs in the 1960s.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is the most farcical of the big-screen series. As much comedy as adventure derives from the journey of the Starfleet heroes to 1986 Earth, and the relative rudeness and local color they encounter in San Francisco. While this installment is less scary and violent than most other Star Trek movies, there are instances of comical swearing and drug references. There is also a depiction of the killing of whales. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byAllAges August 13, 2020

The best in the series!

Except for the occasional language (d##n, hell, dumb###), this movie could be rated G. The edited-for-television version would be ideal for younger viewers.
Adult Written bythe mad librarian! May 2, 2012

Oldies can be goodies!

WONDERFUL! Interesting, topical, humorous, multicultural, well-done. I would show this to any child above 8 years old and expect to have a good conversation whe... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byYougotitnow2 June 4, 2020

Where are you’re nuclear vessels?

This film is downright the most funny Star Trek movie. It is a fish out of water story [see what I did there?] that includes less violence then even the tv show... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old May 9, 2021

Very, Very Funny

Swearing is definitely part of the funniness of this movie. For example Spock says "The hell yes" or "The hell no." Chekov goes around sayin... Continue reading

What's the story?

Having rescued a returned-from-the-dead Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and committing multiple offenses against Starfleet in the process, the core crew of the now-destroyed starship Enterprise are in exile on the planet Vulcan at the start of STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME. Voting unanimously to return to Earth and face justice, they depart in their captured Klingon ship, only to find their home planet besieged by a bizarre, enigmatic alien space probe that's battering Earth through storms and energy drains. The heroes figure out that the probe is trying to contact humpback whales, described as an intelligent species which, by the 23rd century, have been long extinct, hunted to their doom by greedy humans. Admiral Kirk (William Shatner) orders the crew to time-warp back to the 20th century, where humpback whales can be found.

Is it any good?

This movie successfully captured the same lighthearted spirit of some of the classic 1960s TV episodes. The bulk of the fun of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home -- and it is fun, much of the time, played for breezy laughs, despite the mortal peril for the Earth -- centers on the super-competent 23rd-century visitors' awkwardness fitting into 1986 Earth society and dealing with money, rude people, profanity, exact bus fare, and more.

The cast has seldom been more charming (and that's saying a lot), and there's a running undercurrent about Spock gradually reconnecting with his shipmates and learning to balance logic with emotion. Sure, the special effects are good too (note the use of early CGI to simulate the time warp), but it's the beloved characterizations that set it apart from the vast majority of screen science-fiction that's all about the gadgets, rockets, aliens, and monster costumes.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home's emphasis on comedy, and the culture-shock of the future space travelers in (more or less) present-day Earth society. What aspects of this world do you think would bewilder visitors from tomorrow?

  • Is there an eco-friendly message to this film? What do the heroes do to protect the Earth in the recent past to save the distant future?

  • Which elements of the Star Trek universe are possible and which are purely science fiction? Is there any technology that they have in Starfleet that is similar to something that exists today?

Movie details

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