Dazzling fantasy romcom has some dark moments.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Review Date: December 16, 2007
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 128 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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.


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.


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.


Quite benign; mostly just insults ("idiots") and the occasional "damn."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Pirates drink, before, during, and after pillaging. Tristan and Victoria steal away for a picnic where they drink champagne.

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.

What's the story?

Based on Neil Gaiman's novel, STARDUST chronicles the adventures of Tristan (Charlie Cox), a young man who ventures beyond the mysterious wall that surrounds his town to find a fallen star so he can bring it back to the town beauty to prove he's worthy of her love. It's a goal that seems simple enough, but the odyssey changes Tristan forever. It all starts when, instead of the "lump of rock" Tristan imagined, the star in question turns out to be a young woman named Yvaine (Claire Danes). She was felled from the sky by a ruby necklace thrown to the winds by a cruel king (Peter O'Toole) who decrees before he dies that whichever of his male heirs finds it will succeed him on the throne. At first, Yvaine's not too keen to help a stranger like Tristan, especially since his goal is to win over a selfish, though admittedly gorgeous, girl (Victoria, the object of Tristan's affection, is played by Sienna Miller). But Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer), an old witch, is after Yvaine's heart -- literally; the witch must eat it to look forever young -- and without Tristan's help, the star might be hacked to pieces. (Oh, and then there's the prince who wants to get his mitts on the ruby.)

Is it any good?


Clocking in at a long-but-fast-moving two hours and eight minutes, 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. 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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what makes up a really good adventure/love story. Is it sword fights? Scary villains? Handsome leading men and ladies? What's the appeal of fantasy tales like this one? Are violent scenes any less scary when they take place in a world of witches and flying ships? Families can also discuss Tristan's relationships with Victoria and Yvaine. Is Victoria worth the trouble he goes to? How is she different from Yvaine? How does the movie show Tristan's changing feelings toward the two women? And why does Lamia want to stay young forever? Is youth valued above all, especially on film?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 10, 2007
DVD release date:December 18, 2007
Cast:Charlie Cox, Claire Danes, Michelle Pfeiffer
Director:Matthew Vaughn
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Topics:Magic and fantasy
Run time:128 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:some fantasy violence and risque humor.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 5 and 11 year old Written byWife-mother-law... May 14, 2011

Break the rules for this PG 13 movie: it's PG 11.

It's a lot of fun. My just shy of 11 year old has only seen one other PG13 movie: Harry Potter IV. This was more fun and the violence was far less serious. (We don't regret H.P. IV - though sometimes we feel like the only parents in the world who have tried to pace our child - she read it and was ready. Just. But this movie was totally fun and fine as the violence was silly. The one night stand resulting in pregnancy required the pause button, but we try to turn those awkward moments into opportunities. If your willing to help with unraveling the fun and fast paced plot and also talk about the violence and sex, this is a great movie to break the PG 13 rule on.
What other families should know
Great messages
Parent of a 8 and 8 year old Written byEzri_B April 9, 2008

Wonderful Grownup fairy tale

This was a wonderful movie, but it's really a grown ups fairy tale. I put it in league with the Labyrinth or Legend. It is beautiful, intellegent, creative, and magical. There is some violence. The killing of animals to see the future for instance is a bit gross, you don't see it, but you know it's happening. Overall it's great, but more for the older child and adults.
Adult Written byUncle Festorkian April 13, 2010

Stardust. Our Family's Favorite.

I saw this movie twice in the theatres with friends and with my family. I watched it with my parents (who are very old-fashioned) and never once felt uncomfortable. This is a bit more violent than The Princess Bride but I think just as classic with a great mix of action, romance, and clean comedy. Awesome movie, don't rent it, just buy it.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


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