The Pirates! Band of Misfits (2012) – Peter Lord

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Great sight gags, brilliant animation, a fun story and a talented voice cast make this one a treasure trove. I love the work of Aardman Studios, and this one did not fail to entertain. Based on his book, Gideon Defoe wrote the screenplay that brings this fun-filled story to life.

The film features a captain and crew of a pirate ship during Queen Victoria’s (Imelda Stanton) reign, and their captain, aptly named Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant), simply wants to win Pirate of the Year award. However, when other pirates, including Cutlass Lizz (Salma Hayek), Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven), and Peg Leg Hastings (Lenny Henry) outshine him yet again, he is determined to pillage and amass the largest amount of booty as possible so there will be no denying his claim.

In their travels, they collide with the Beagle, with none other than Charles Darwin (David Tennant) aboard, alongside his hilarious, card-carrying monkey. When Darwin recognizes that the Pirate Captain’s parrot, Polly, is in fact a Dodo, he persuades the crew to go to London to present the bird to the public, and a royal society of scientists and win the prize and untold riches!! (and lots of evolution jokes!)

This seems like a sure way for the Pirate Captain to win Pirate of the Year, but things start to turn for the worst, Queen Victoria discovers who they are, wants Polly, and has a dark secret!

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There is a lot going on in this film, like in most Aardman Studios’ works. There are sight gags, word play, jokes, and tons of things going on in the background, there’s always something to see, and the humour is aimed solidly at the family with a sense of laughter. There are jokes in here for the kids, there are jokes in their for the grown-ups, and it’s a happy viewer who gets enjoyment out of both. The line about the surprisingly curvaceous pirate made me laugh out loud, and that told me I was in for a fun ride.

Grant and Tennant together are a lot of fun, and Grant’s Pirate Captain is wonderfully full of bluster and self-confidence, to the point of absurdity, that you can’t help but like him. Martin Freeman voices his number two, simply referred to as such, or as Pirate With A Scarf, and his dry wit and delivery are perfectly suited to this format, and he perfectly balances the Captain out, serving as his and the story’s moral compass.

If you were a fan of the Wallace and Gromit, liked Chicken Run, or just love a good, funny, family film, then check this one out. I had a really good time watching this one.

Pirates is currently available on Netflix.

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