The Pirates! Band of Misfits is a fast-sailing ship of fools, scientists and even the last living dodo bird. This kooky voyage will have the whole family giggling while discovering some of the lesser known stories from this fanciful version of history. Did I mention it's in 3-D?Hugh Grant is charmingly doltish as the voice of the Pirate Captain, an inept seaman whose dream is to win the coveted Pirate of the Year Award. He has stiff competition, however, from Cutlass Liz, voiced by
Though the naturalist's animal specimens don't qualify as booty, Darwin, or "Chuck" as they call him, is impressed by Polly, the loyal bird the Pirate Captain claims is a "big-boned" parrot. Polly is in fact, not a parrot but the last living dodo bird and would cause quite a stir at the Royal Science society back in London. Chuck schemes to get the pirates and the dodo back to England but there's one little problem -- , voiced by , hates, hates, HATES pirates.The story makes terrific fun out of Aardman Animations' success in turning two of the most revered historical figures of the 19th century into villains. Charles Darwin becomes a hilarious buffoon as he plots to steal the dodo bird simply to impress the curvy Queen Victoria. Darwin quips, "Her bun really does it for me." His sidekick is an ape man-servant whom he refers to as "Banana Butt." Much to my surprise, Queen "Vicky" reveals her delightfully sinister plan for the dodo bird that doesn't involve a petting zoo but a knife and fork . With these two terrors running around the globe, pirates are the least of Victorian England's worries in this skewed version of history.
I’m a sucker for Aardman Animations’ films, and have been ever since I first set eyes on Nick Park’s unforgettable short Creature Comforts more than twenty years ago. The Pirates! Band of Misfits, directed by the studio’s co-founder Peter Lord, has the same qualities that always make their work so appealing: a distinctly British sense of humor, and amusing character designs—in clay.While even the folks at Aardman have embraced computer technology as a filmmaking tool, there is something uniquely appealing about sculpted clay figures like the Pirate Captain (voiced by Hugh Grant) and his self-described “luxuriant beard.” Audiences naturally respond to the characters, situations, and gags in any animated cartoon, but the look of the film is one of its strongest assets, and wins us over right away.
Story development in Gideon Defoe’s screenplay is not this movie’s strongest suit; silliness is. As we meet the proud Pirate Captain and his eccentric crew, we realize that the so-called hero of the film is something of a nitwit, albeit a likable one. His odd-looking mates are loyal to a fault and support him as he enters the Pirate of the Year contest, even though he always loses. It turns out that the real “winner” in their midst is the Captain’s “parrot” Polly, whom none other than Charles Darwin identifies as a dodo bird. That makes her very desirable, not only to the fabled scientist but to none other than Queen Victoria herself.
The Pirates! Band of Misfits elicited hearty laughs from many audience members—especially grownups—the night I saw it. I found myself smiling and chuckling more than laughing out loud, but I have no complaint about a film that offers wit, imagination, and sheer nonsense in equal measure. Many of the gags will sail over children’s heads, but I think the non-stop action and overall good cheer will please them. Adults will enjoy the voice work by Grant and a fine supporting cast led by , Imelda Staunton (as Queen Victoria), David Tennant, Jeremy Piven, Salma Hayek, Lenny Henry, , Anton Yelchin, and Brendan Gleeson. Anglophiles will appreciate them all the more.Pixar may be stronger on story development, and DreamWorks funnier in terms of verbal gags, but Aardman’s films have their own personality, and I hope they never abandon it.
From Aardman Animations, the sensational Claymation studio that's given us the "Wallace and Grommit" series and "Chicken Run," comes "The Pirates! Band of Misfits." The film was five years in the making, which just goes to show it takes a lot of work to be adorable. That's pretty much what this movie is, but that doesn't mean I loved it.Hugh Grant voices the Pirate Captain, an underachieving leader with a typically motley, underachieving crew - "briny rogues," as he calls them. The Captain hopes to win Pirate of the Year at the annual Pirate of the Year awards. Problem is, he has no booty (insert Kim Kardashian joke here) and is considered a loser by all the other pirates. What to do? Plunder some ships and get some booty!Unfortunately, when it comes to plundering, our Captain leaves a lot to be desired. Fortunately, he encounters a scientific vessel with one Mr. Charles Darwin on board, who discovers that the Captain's beloved parrot Polly is actually a nearly extinct Dodo bird, leading our hero to conclude that if he presents Polly to Darwin's fellow scientists, he'll earn booty to spare.While not exactly a treasure, "The Pirates! Band of Misfits" is no-brainer entertainment for the kids. As for mom and dad? Though many of the jokes are aimed at adults they miss their mark, coming off as merely cute rather than truly funny.