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Movie review: 'The Pirates! Band of Misfits'

Movie Review: ‘The Pirates! Band of Misfits'
Oklahoman Published: April 27, 2012

Fans of Aardman, the British stop-motion animation group that created the “Wallace and Gromit” films, “Creature Comforts” and “Chicken Run,” will salivate over “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” as if it were a ripe wedge of Wensleydale cheese. Unlike last year's sleek, computer-generated “Arthur Christmas,” “Pirates” has the look and feel of classic Aardman. It generates good will on its distinctive visual charms, but many laughs are lost at sea.

Based on Gideon Defoe's series of comic novels about incompetent pirates and their historical and literary-themed adventures, “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” centers on the Pirate Captain (voiced by Hugh Grant), an amiable bumbler who leads a group of ham-loving high seas adventurers identified only by their most striking physical trait. For instance, there's Pirate with a Scarf (Martin Freeman), Pirate with Gout (Brendan Gleeson) and Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate (Ashley Jensen). These mateys cannot get anything right and find themselves constantly outclassed by rivals Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven) and Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayek).

In one of these pirates' many mistakes on their endless quest for gold, they train their cannons on the HMS Beagle and take captive Charles Darwin (David Tennant, the 10th Doctor from “Doctor Who”) and his “man-panzee.” Darwin makes a startling discovery about the Captain's parrot that merits presentation to the Royal Society back in London, but that means the heroes must face the pirate-hating Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton). “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” was named “The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists” in the rest of the world, and the Darwin-related plot was deep-sixed in the U.S. marketing for the film.

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‘The Pirates! Band of Misfits”

PG1:28 2 ½ stars

Starring: Hugh Grant, Brendan Gleeson, Jeremy Piven, David Tennant, Salma Hayek, Martin Freeman.

(Mild action, rude humor and some language)


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