Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Family
Run Time: 1 hour 28 minutes, Rated PG
Starring (voice talent): Hugh Grant, Imelda Staunton, David Tennant, Jeremy Piven, Salma Hayek, Anton Yelchin, Brendan Gleeson
Directed by Peter Lord (Chicken Run) and Jeff Newitt (feature film debut)
From Aardman Animation - the studio responsible for the Wallace & Gromit series as well as animated films like Arthur Christmas and Flushed Away - comes The Pirates! Band of Misfits, an uninspired misfire that takes every cliche in the book and recycles it one stop-frame-of-animation at a time.
The creatively named Pirate Captain (voiced by Hugh Grant) and his band of misfits sail the high seas in search of treasure, but they are largely inept and unsuccessful. That doesn't stop him from wanting to win the upcoming Pirate of the Year Award, even though there are much more able sea captains in the running. When Pirate Captain happens across the soon-to-be-famous Charles Darwin (voiced by David Tennant), Darwin sees an opportunity for both of them to get rich on the wings of Pirate Captain's prized parrot, Polly.
That's because Polly is actually not a parrot, he is a dodo bird and the rarest of the rare. Introducing the bird to the pirate community would give them immeasurable wealth, which would be just enough booty for Pirate Captain to win his first ever Pirate of the Year Award, and end his reputation as the laughing stock of the sea.
Aardman Animation always looks great, and this film doesn't disappoint in presentation. What is lacking is any genuine laughs, originality or intelligence. Yes I know, these films are meant to possess that tongue-in-cheek Monty Python-esque British sense of humor, but it rarely works here.
Even for an animated film clearly aimed at young children, there is a dumbed-down feel. Young children who love pirates may even become squeamish, and even at an 88 minute run time, the end couldn't come quickly enough.
The entire film is a string of "dad jokes," you know, the cheesiest of cheesy puns that don't really make you laugh, but make you nod knowingly if you did understand it. At least with dads we have a level of spontaneity...in The Pirates! Band of Misfits we see every bad joke coming a mile away.
Mix into these endless cliches a crew of unmemorable sidekicks and an uninspired premise, and this one had me running - not walking - to the plank.
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