The Pirates! Band of Misfits’ is the story of the not so successful pirate, The Captain (Hugh Grant) and his quest to be Pirate of the Year. Despite his best efforts, he and his crew continuously find the coveted title out of their reach. To make matters worse, his adversaries Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven), Peg Leg Hastings (Lenny Henry) and Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayek) ridicule him and laugh at his desire to enter the contest and win.
In response to his nemeses, The Captain’s sets out to obtain enough booty to win the popular pirate title using various wacky antics to pursue his prize. Although at best he is a mediocre pirate, he cuts an impressive figure with his one great asset –his luxurious beard. Along with The misfits who are masters of disguise, he travels incognito from Blood Island to London (1837) under the radar of the pirate hating Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton).
His crew is comprised of zany characters known only by their appearance. In particular, Pirate with Scarf (Martin Freeman), Pirate with Gout (Brendan Gleeson), The Albino Pirate (Anton Yelchin, and The Pirate Who Likes Sunsets and Kittens (Al Roker) and Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate (Ashley Jensen) who is clearly a woman masquerading as a man unbeknownst to The Captain and Crew.
After a chance meeting with Charles Darwin (David Tennant of ‘Dr. Who’ fame), The Captain learns that his beloved Polly the parrot is actually the rarest of avian and the last dodo bird on earth. The Captain wants to be the Pirate King so badly he is willing to part with the one thing he loves the most.
Deception abounds as a pirate, scientist, and a queen wheel and deal to get what each desire. Queen Victoria wants to acquire Polly for her zoo exhibit (or so it seems). Charles Darwin has questionable reasons as well and just might not be the scholarly gentlemen he pretends to be.
The story is adapted from the children’s novel by Gideon Defoe‘The Pirates in an adventure with Scientist’ (the titled used in the British version) is not just for children. In fact, many sight gags and banter are for adults as depicted in the scene referencing ‘The Elephant Man.’ Other sight jokes include Blood Island which actually is shaped like spattered blood.
There was a controversy early on regarding a scene in which The Captain leaps onto a ship demanding gold and it turns out to be a leprosy ship (the leper’s arm falls off). The British organization LEPRA Health in Action and World Health Organization (WHO) protested to a reference to the disease. Aardman Animations apologized and the scene was changed.
The animated film screenplay is written by Gideon Defoe andproduced by Aardmanin partnership with Sony Pictures Animationand distributed by Columbia Pictures. Peter Lordand Jeff Newittco-directs the stop motion animation of Aardman as seen in ‘Chicken Run’. This newest adventure is kicked up a notch a two aided by 3D. I’m not a fan of 3D for 3D’s sake, but it does enhance the sculptures. Yet, there aren’t any outstanding visual effects and the Claymation characters’ detail will stand up without it.
‘The Pirates!’ is a delightful tale sure to entertain both children and adults alike and worth a trip to a theater.