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The Pirates! Band of Misfits Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 6+

Pirate adventure blends Victorian history, high-seas fun.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Pirates! Band of Misfits isn't your typical pirate adventure, but there's still action, mild high-seas peril, a little bit of colorful language ("hell," etc.), and some parent-targeted jokes about the two historical characters depicted in the movie: Queen Victoria and Charles Darwin. Although the pirates use guns and swords and have hand-to-hand fights, they don't face any real danger until the climactic battle with the queen; before that, their enemies are schoolchildren, lepers, and ghosts. That said, the queen is quite menacing, and Darwin is greedy in his attempts to steal from the pirates. But the pirates themselves, rather than being bloodthirsty and selfish, are more like a family that sticks together, loot or no loot.

  • Families can talk about why pirate movies are so popular. What is it about pirate tales that continues to be so compelling for movie audiences? How are the crew members in The Pirates! different than other movie mateys?
  • How does the movie depict Charles Darwin and Queen Victoria? Do you think that the characters are portrayed accurately? Is it OK for filmmakers to take liberties with historical figures for the sake of humor?
  • Some of the movie's jokes are specifically aimed at grown-ups; do you think too much of the humor is historical or for adults? Do you think jokes for parents are necessary in kids' movies?

The good stuff
  • educationalvalue true2

    Educational value: If they're paying attention, kids will learn some historical facts -- like that in 1837, Queen Victoria ascended the throne, or that that's when a young Charles Darwin was keeping his early notebooks about the environment. Obviously, there are some exaggerations and liberties taken with the truth, but the portrayals of the queen and Darwin are so amusing that kids are bound to want to learn more about whether they're real and what their place in history is.

  • message true2

    Messages: Subtle messages about unconditional friendship, loyalty, tolerance, and what constitutes a family. The Pirate Captain's crew is indeed a bunch of misfits (an albino, a woman pretending to be a man, a peg-legged pirate, and a captain who can't seem to find any booty), but they stand by one another, even when times are dire. 

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: Pirates aren't exactly positive role models, but a couple of them act honorably. The Pirate Captain rescues his pet from the clutches of the movie's villain, even though he could have ended up in prison or dead. And pirate Number Two and the rest of the crew save the day, even though the Pirate Captain had betrayed them. On the flip side, Darwin is depicted as weaselly and selfish, and young Queen Victoria is homicidal and bloodthirsty when it comes to endangered animals.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence and scariness: Some gun, sword, and hand-to-hand violence. There are explosions and close calls, but no one is killed or permanently injured, although the queen must be subdued in order to save the Dodo bird that was going to be slaughtered and eaten. The pirates face off against ghosts.

  • sex false2

    Sexy stuff: Female pirate Cutlass Liz has noticeable cleavage, and the male pirates stare at her curves in one saloon scene. Darwin has an overwhelming crush on the queen and says her severe bun "does it for him." The Pirate Captain flirts with one of Darwin's female friends during a night at the pub. The "Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate" is actually a woman, and she ends up in a tub, but nothing is ever shown.

  • language false2

    Language: Language includes infrequent use of "hell," "ass," and "crap," plus "idiot" and "stupid."

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: The pirates are often shown at a saloon or celebrating the Pirate of the Year Awards, so there's a noticeable amount of drinking (what looks like beer, wine, or mead/grog). The Pirate Captain gets drunk hanging out with Charles Darwin and his friends.