The Boy and the Pirates

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
The Boy and the Pirates Movie Poster Image
Time-travel pirate adventure with boy hero, guns, swords.
  • NR
  • 1960
  • 84 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Jimmy learns: Be careful what you wish just might get it. And he learns to appreciate the life he has.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jimmy begins as a sullen, uncooperative 11-year-old. During his adventure he learns to be resourceful, brave, compassionate, and responsible. With the exception of one wise and caring pirate, most adults from the past are all thieves, liars, and bloodthirsty. Jimmy's parents are old-fashioned: bossy and insensitive. No ethnic diversity.


Two kids are often in danger. They are threatened at sword point, chased, and yelled at by the pirate captain and some of his men. The movie has multiple battle sequences with swords, knives, guns, and cannons. Men are stabbed (with some blood), "run through" with swords, shot at from close range, and thrown overboard. Many pirates and the innocents on other ships whom they attack are killed and injured.


Pirate name-calling (i.e., "deckrat," "blackguard").

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The pirate captain orders and drinks rum on several occasions.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the ongoing suspense in this swashbuckling, live-action The Boy and the Pirates comes from the predicament of two children who are accidentally aboard a pirate ship. Jimmy and Katrina are frequently in danger, narrowly escaping with their lives. The movie includes lots of swordplay, gun battles, and cannon fire. While it's not very realistic, numerous pirates and their victims are killed during the extending fighting. Swords, knives, and ammunition hit their mark; men are felled, sometimes with a bit of blood to sell it. Very young or super-sensitive kids could be frightened by the much larger-than-life Blackbeard the Pirate and his mates, who snarl, shout, threaten, and kill at will. The pirate captain loves his rum, too.  

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What's the story?

Eleven-year-old Jimmy Warren (Charles Herbert) is frustrated: his parents are bossy, he's not doing well at school, he hates his chores. He's only happy when he's pretending to be a pirate. One day, as he holds an unusual urn that has washed up on the beach, Jimmy wishes aloud that he could be a real pirate. Whoosh -- Abu, the genie appears. He grants the boy's wish, but it may have a terrible outcome. If Jimmy doesn't return the urn in three days, he could end up taking Abu's place inside the glass for an eternity. So Jimmy is transported to a time when pirates were a fearsome presence on the oceans. He's sailing with the legendary Blackbeard. But it's a far cry from what he imagined. A series of battles initiated by the bloodthirsty crew and Jimmy's rescue of an innocent little girl make the boy sorry that his wish came true and very anxious to make his way home.

Is it any good?

Made in 1960, this live-action adventure is clumsily plotted, badly acted (the pirates cackle and swashbuckle with unrestrained relish), and many of the battles include on-camera killings. It's cartoonish, but graphic as swords pierce bodies, wheellock firearms drop men at point blank range, and small amounts of blood appear at the place of entry.

Still, it's easy to see that boys who are intrigued by pirates, and the freedom of the seas that pirates represent, would find this movie thrilling and memorable.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about reasons that time-travel movies are so successful. If you could be transported to a bygone era (or into the future), what would you choose? Why? 

  • Jimmy learns the meaning of the expression, "Be careful what you wish for." Have you ever wanted something, gotten it, and been sorry afterward? What did you learn?

  • On the surface, Jimmy's family in 1960 seems very different from most families today. What are some of the components of family that have stayed the same and what's changed?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love adventure

Themes & Topics

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