After a decade of pirate movies that feature an absurd protagonist sashaying through epic adventures, Studio Aardman has come out with a rousing, family-friendly comedy featuring an absurd band of outcasts. Great performances, brilliantly detailed animation and simple fun will satisfy younger audiences but won’t tax parents. The Pirates: Band of Misfits features some dry British wit and might bore audience members who expect nonstop laughs and frenetic action from their animation, but on the whole this kid’s flick entertains.
Pirate Captain (voiced by Hugh Grant, About a Boy) is a terrible pirate. He and his crew spend their days sailing the high seas engaging not in robbing, raping and pillaging but having silly adventures in such exotic locales as a library (yeah, it’s as odd as it sounds) and look forward to ham night (also, exactly what you think).
When the Pirate of the Year awards come up, Pirate Captain realizes that his resume is light compared to his peers. He and the crew—after being laughed out of the ceremony—commence an adventure that crosses paths with a young Charles Darwin, Queen Victoria, and a host of wacky characters. Many of the period references will likely fly right over the heads of younger viewers (and many adults), talking about Jane Austen and the Elephant Man but those gags are a welcome respite from the stream of already-dated pop culture references from the Shrek/Madagascar series.
The animation in The Pirates: Band of Misfits is deep, detailed, and gorgeous. The digital claymation feels deep and textured, with plenty of freeze-frame gags for fans to go back and explore on DVD.
The story is oft silly but fun enough to justify its existence. The 3D has a few nice moments but isn’t essential to your enjoyment. Good for the younger kids, teens and adults looking for a movie with an edge will probably find it slow and boring.
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