Pirates! Band of Misfits
- Released: Thursday, 05 April 2012
- Runtime: 88 mins.
- Distributor: Sony Pictures.
This is a bit of a guilty pleasure for adults, but so are most of the films from Bristol’s Aardman Studios, makers of those delightful and funny animation films, Creature Comforts and the Wallace and Grommit shorts and The Curse of the Were Rabbit. They also made Chicken Run some years ago.
Here they are with a daffy pirate story which is so full of anachronisms, that littlies might not even notice, that it makes for an imagination bending adventure. It is 1837 and Queen Victoria has just ascended the throne – and declared her hatred of pirates. In the meantime, over in Blood Island, the often charmingly incompetent Captain Pirate, his loyal Number Two and his small but motley crew are encouraging him to enter the competition again for Pirate of the Year. He has been part of it for twenty years, has never won, and is the butt of the more successful, treasure laden pirates.
Off they go to prove themselves but encounter a ghost ship, kids on a geography excursion, naturists – no one with any gold. Another failure with booty is The Beagle with a small-sized Charles Darwin who saves himself from walking the plank – well, no, he is pushed off but rescued – when he realises that Captain Pirate’s parrot is actually a dodo, not extinct. Between many jigs and many reels, off they go to London for the Royal Society competition, which the dodo wins. Darwin, kept out of the celebrations, connives with Queen Victoria who desperately wants the dodo, not for her pet zoo, as she claims, but for the revelation of something much more dastardly. Queen Victoria is the villain of the film.
The final adventure (after the Pirate King strips Captain Pirate of being Pirate of the Year at a kind of 19th century Oscar ceremony) involves Pirate Captain, Darwin, his Manzee (who communicates by holding up cards) and the crew coming to the rescue in a final combat with Victoria.
There are plenty of aside jokes if you are attentive, lots of anachronisms as mentioned and playing around with dates, and a gallery of amusing ads and signs throughout which are all shown during the final credits. The line I liked was, ‘Nothing is impossible until you really think about it!’.
The voices are excellent, Hugh Grant at his Hugh Grantish best as Captain Pirate. Martin Freeman is the loyal Number Two. David Tennant is Darwin. Imelda Staunton lets rip as Queen Victoria.
The animation is detailed and lively (and there is a 3D release of the film). There is enough for younger audiences to enjoy and the jokes and references will amuse adults.
Fortunately, we are told at the end that the characters do not relate to any real persons – any reference is purely coincidental. But, if you feel the earth rumble beneath your feet, it is not an earthquake, not a sign of tsunami. It is Queen Victoria turning, no, rapidly revolving, in her grave!