A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Backstabbing, literally and figuratively, of Shakespearean proportions. A father pits his sons against each other. Brothers murder each other (with knives, poison, etc.) in a bid to take their father's throne. Witch sisters scream at each other as they try to find Yvaine and kill her. A young woman demands a present from a suitor she doesn't like that much. A young man engages in a one-night stand that produces a son. There are also homophobic overtones in terms of how a pirate is portrayed.
Violence & Scariness
Surprising amounts of fantasy/swashbuckling violence, including swordfights, knifings, and sorcery that ends in murder (a man drinks poison and keels over, another man is pushed off a ledge) and destruction. In one particularly brutal scene, a witch drowns a man with a voodoo doll and uses his body to try to stab another. In another scene, she slits a victim's throat. Animals are also killed for witchcraft, and Yvaine is being pursued so a sorceress can eat her heart.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
No nudity, but some kissing and a few cleavage shots. A young woman seduces a young man and gets pregnant (nothing explicit is shown). Tristan and Yvaine spend a night together, though the audience only sees them together under the covers.
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Quite benign; mostly just insults ("idiots") and the occasional "damn."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Pirates drink, before, during, and after pillaging. Tristan and Victoria steal away for a picnic where they drink champagne.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that although this highly entertaining fantasy will appeal to kids with its mix of swashbuckling adventure and romance, it's darker than cinematic cousins like The Princess Bride. It's surprisingly violent, with several deaths and lots of fights featuring knives and swords. The scenes in which an evil witch unleashes her fury are truly frightening (one with a voodoo doll may make even older tweens close their eyes), as is her transformation into an old hag. The subplots, including one about brothers vying for their father's crown trying to kill each other, may be too disturbing for younger kids. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Stardust's plot is a bit overstuffed, Claire Danes comes off a little too serious in a charming but not-so-starry turn, and the many cameos are entertaining but a bit distracting, too. The movie clocks in at a long-but-fast-moving two hours and eight minutes. There are so many threads to keep track of that it's a wonder viewers don't end up in knots. But one detour, though overlong, needs no excuses because it's so much fun: Tristan and Yvaine's healing sojourn with Captain Shakespeare (Robert De Niro, absolutely amazing), a pirate who pretends to love being brutal but much prefers cooking, piano playing, hairdressing, and dancing in women's clothing.
The violence level is surprisingly high. Swords and knives are drawn left and right -- though cartoonishly enough, and little actual blood is shed (when it is, the color is blue, which somewhat mitigates the gore). The most brutal of the lot is Lamia, played with considerable relish by Pfeiffer, whose race against time is vividly captured through her falling hair and wrinkling skin (the special effects are top-notch). Could there be a bigger (guilty) pleasure than watching the always-luminous Pfeiffer look like a crone? As in most romantic movies, love conquers all in the end. And a late-breaking twist regarding Tristan's mother's true identity and what it means for him is especially delicious. But it's the lovers' journey to the denouement -- made more interesting by their adventures -- that ultimately makes Stardust so satisfying.
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Our Editors Recommend
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