Gleeful for the family, lots of cheeky humor. The Pirates! Band of Misfits is quality stop motion animation in-line with Aardman Studios’ “Wallace and Gromit” and “Chicken Run,” much better than “Arthur Christmas.” The rubbery dolls effects have a certain charm, and the travel by map scenes are so… Monty Python-esque. Adults will get plenty of these jokes if they’ve lived long enough to recall the British motley crew’s absurdist humor. Hugh Grant (“Music & Lyrics) is the leading Pirate Captain, whose morale booster for the ship is the weekly special feast “Ham Nite,” and whose one objective is getting titled “Pirate of the Year.” Jeremy Piven and Salma Hayek are opponent pirates, but the most inspired second main character is evolutionary theorist… Charles Darwin (David Tennant).
One aspect of the movie stinks: The 3D experience, which adds nothing and subtracts much color and light as viewed through the spectacles. Virtually absent of hologram effects, and nothing splashes out at you. Opt to see it in 2D.
Even despite talk of swashbuckling, of death, of pillaging, and such frivolities associated with pirates, much of the movie has a congenial touch. The crew loves their Pirate Captain, and the Pirate Captain is such an inept softie, he’s antiseptic.
The Pirate Captain’s got many things up his beard, err sleeve, though, and one of them is the near extinct dodo bird (Polly is the crew’s best friend). The Pirate Captain enters a Science Fair contest sponsored by Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton). Only snafu is that the Queen loathes pirates, and she loves dinner regales with extinct animal cuisine. Polly must be saved before it’s off with her head. Grant is delightfully sputtering as he grooms to be tough for this adventure.
It’s not as enthusiastic as a Muppets movie, but it is a mild delight. The original British title was “The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!” where it’s done smash-up business in the UK markets. The subtitle change for the U.S. markets is a dumbed down act.
87 Minutes. Rated PG.
FAMILY MOVIE / GOOFY / WEEKEND DINNER AND FAMILY MOVIE
Film Cousins: “Time Bandits” (1981); “Cutthroat Island” (1995) “Chicken Run” (2000); “Pirates of the Caribbean” (2003).