The Pirates! Band of Misfits is another wonderful addition to the Aardman Animations family of stop motion adventures, masterfully fulfilling the needs of children and their parent’s alike.
Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant) wants the Pirate of the Year award desperately. After seeing the booty pulled in by Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven) and Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayek), Pirate Captain goes on a looting spree. After attacking worthless ships, Pirate Captain and his crew encounter Charles Darwin (David Tennant) who informs him that the real treasure may be under his nose, but to claim glory the pirates will have to enter London where Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton) wants all pirates dead.
The last family friendly film I reviewed was Arthur Christmas, another Aardman animations productions from Sony. Arthur Christmas wasn’t quite as suggestive with the humor, and tried to make up for it with sheer volume. Much of the humor in The Pirates! plays out in the background and well beyond the comprehensions of the children in attendance. They can grasp the plot, the fun of the sight gags, and the lively characters, but the parent can appreciate the grander aspects and dare I say historical elements.
It’s nothing for a computer generated animated film to do the impossible, or rather what would be impossible with conventional means. It’s far more the feat when modeled figures do just as much. Stripping away the dialog, which is great, leaves a visual art that can still make a spectacle. Director Peter Lord is to his craft as Jim Henson was to puppets. As amazed as this reviewer is of the animation, I wish those promoting it had as much faith as the poster is computer rendered.
Hugh Grant wasn’t entirely necessary to make The Pirates! Band of Misfits enjoyable, and his American pirate may be a misnomer. Piven and Hayek might have 10 lines between them, and typically when a character gets the star entrance, as they did, you expect them to have a more prominent role. There might even be some fall out from feminists for the lack of emphasis on the character known as Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate, but I find it refreshing to have such a character included without making her an agent to introduce an agenda.
The Pirates! Band of Misfits breaks the mold. What we have here is a fun family film that entertains the kids and parents don’t have to simply tolerate it. There’s going to be a lot of sequels and remakes this summer, even an original computer animated movie or two, but there surely won’t be another feature like this. ***