The Pirates! Band of Misfits Review: Bootylicious

The_Pirates_Band_of_Misfits_AardmanWell, I’m now one step closer to seeing every film nominated for a significant Academy Award for the past year.  Now, all I have left are Frankenweenie, The Sessions, The Master, and Amour.  All this plus new releases to cover and midterms, so many first-world problems to deal with.  I suppose I can at least be grateful I’m not in the Northeast right now, here in Seattle the entire city freaks out when we get a few inches of snow so I can only imagine how quickly society would collapse under three feet.  In any case, I’ll do my best to cover everything I can with enough room left for Oscar Predictions, which brings us back to the dark horse nominee for Best Animated Picture: The Pirates! Band of Misfits.  I should mention before this review that along with Monty Python, I was also raised on healthy doses of Wallace and Gromit, so it should be noted that I have a bit of a bias towards stop-motion British humor.  The Pirates! Band of Misfits is definitely geared towards family audiences more than anything else but it at least has enough sweetness and occasional wit to provide an entertaining diversion for adult audiences as well. 

The Plot:

Pirate Captain sets out on a mission to defeat his rivals Black Bellamy and Cutlass Liz for the Pirate of the year Award. The quest takes Captain and his crew from the shores of Blood Island to the foggy streets of Victorian London.

The Players:

Still not as cute as Kevin from Up

Still not as cute as Kevin from Up

The biggest thing that surprised me about this movie was how difficult it is to recognize Hugh Grant as the voice of The Pirate Captain.  I’m not the biggest fan of Mr. Grant, but he does a wonderful job here of fitting his voice into the character.  A lot of animated movies focus so much on getting celebrity voices that they don’t consider how poorly an actor or actress’ voice might fit into the visual character they’re playing.  The worst case of this I’ve ever seen has got to be Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (Watch Alec Baldwin and Steve Buscemi’s characters in it and tell me I’m lying).  Luckily, this is not the case here and while a lot of the voices are recognizable as the actors or actresses playing them, none are intrusive enough to be a real problem.

The Wrong Stuff

The Wrong Stuff

Beyond The Pirate Captain is his crew, filled out by the likes of Martin Freeman, Brendan Gleeson, Anton Yelchin and more.  The crew is always good for the occasional laugh, and the fact that they are all named after their attributes (The Albino Pirate, Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate, etc.) is also amusing.   Salma Hayek and Jeremy Piven play rival Pirates Cutlass Liz and Black Bellamy, and while Salma Hayek’s Latin sultriness matches her role just fine, Jeremy Piven still sounds like Ari from Entourage in every single scene.  Did I mention I can’t stand Entourage?  Well, I am now.

You CAN see down lady's tops!

You CAN see down lady’s tops!

Lastly we have my favorite Doctor, Mr. David Tennant as Charles Darwin, who brings the crew to London when he realizes that The Pirate Captain’s parrot Polly is not a Parrot at all but a supposedly extinct Dodo Bird.  I loved the little bits of evolution humor they sprinkled into the story with his character, as well as the very Wallace and Gromit-ish laughs provided by his flash-card-communicating monkey butler.  Imelda Staunton (aka Professor Umbridge) plays Queen Victoria, who’s physical ridiculousness is highlighted by the evil twist they give her motivations for acquiring Polly from The Pirate Captain.

The Writing:

If Pirate of the Year was solely determined on Beard Quality, The Pirate Captain would have it in the bag

If Pirate of the Year was solely determined on Beard Quality, The Pirate Captain would have it in the bag

As I said, this movie is largely geared towards younger audiences.  The humor is mostly slapstick and very, very British, so if you’re not a fan of other Aardman Animations movies like Chicken Run then you probably won’t find anything for you here.  If you are though, you’ll be very familiar with the sorts of extended comic chase sequences that fill up nearly half the movie here.  Honestly, as far as the comedy side of the film goes there were a lot of things that made me smile and chuckle a bit but nothing that made me, how you say, Laugh Out Loud.  Being able to smile throughout a movie is nice, but I really would have preferred more full-on hilarious moments to give it a bit more punch.

The Verdict:  7.5/10 – Superior

+ Great vocal work by Grant and the rest of the crew (Except Piven, screw that guy)

+ Some great nuggets of silly British humor

+ Doesn’t completely rely on making it’s main characters complete buffoons for laughs

– Simple Plot, overuse of slapstick you’d expect from a movie geared towards family audiences

Critical Consensus:

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%

IMDb:  6.7/10

Metacritic:  73/100

Other Reviews:

Fast Film Reviews: 3.5/5

The Code is Zeek: 3.5/5

The Cinematic Katzenjammer: 6.4/10

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About r361n4

I'm a student at the University of Washington Majoring Business. I've always loved movies and my goal is to work on the financial side of the film industry. Until then though, I figure I'll spare my friends from my opinions and shout them from a digital mountaintop for anyone who's interested. After all, if a tree falls in a forest and nobody blogs about it, does it really happen?
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7 Responses to The Pirates! Band of Misfits Review: Bootylicious

  1. Nick Powell says:

    As you saw from my review, I wasn’t as big of a fan as you are. I thought the plot was far too messy to really enjoy, and the humor was all over the place. Regardless, it has great visuals and a wonderful animation style. Good review. MAYBE, just maybe I’ll give it another chance.

    • r361n4 says:

      Meh, for me I think most of the reason I enjoyed it was the nostalgia value from watching movies like Chicken Run as a kid, but I completely understand your problems with it. It’s definitely all over the place, but it was still fun for me for the majority of the time

  2. Mark Hobin says:

    I didn’t; really give this a second look until it got nominated for Best Animated film at the Oscars. So glad I checked it out. Really well written, witty film aimed at a hip audience. Loved all the hidden jokes in the background for observant viewers.

  3. I enjoyed this, I thought it was some light-hearted fun and the animation was brilliant. It was very British so that’s maybe why I liked it more than some.

  4. Delisha says:

    I have two girls ages six and eight that really enjoy stories like this. The stop animation genre is one of my personal favorites and every chance we get we try to see the newest movie. Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to catch this one in theaters but we definitely planned to see it once it was out on DVD. I remember watching the preview in my office at DISH and being very excited to see it. I had no idea that the captain is voiced by Hugh Grant. I decided I wanted to see it and put in my DISH Blockbuster @Home queue. It should be here via mail in just a few days and that eliminates the need for me to find movies at the nearest kiosk. Blockbuster allows me to choose from over 100,000 movies in the comfort of my own home so I can take my time and really pick what I want to see.

    • r361n4 says:

      I had no idea blockbuster did that, very cool. I think your girls will really enjoy this one, but the fact that you probably will too is what sets it aside from a lot of other family geared movies out there. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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