Starring Hugh Grant, Salma Hayek, Jeremy Piven.
Directed by Peter Lord, Jeff Newitt.
Classification: G (Very mild comedic violence and coarse language), 88 mins.
Official Site: http://www.thepiratesmovie.com.au/
In The Pirates! Band of Misfits, Hugh Grant stars in his first animated role as the luxuriantly bearded Pirate Captain – a boundlessly enthusiastic, if somewhat less-than-successful, terror of the High Seas. With a rag-tag crew at his side (Martin Freeman, Brendan Gleeson, Russell Tovey, and Ashley Jensen), and seemingly blind to the impossible odds stacked against him, the Captain has one dream: to beat his bitter rivals Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven) and Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayek) to the much coveted Pirate Of The Year Award. It’s a quest that takes our heroes from the shores of exotic Blood Island to the foggy streets of Victorian London. Along the way they battle a diabolical queen (Imelda Staunton) and team up with a haplessly smitten young scientist (David Tennant), but never lose sight of what a pirate loves best: adventure!
The trademark detail, mouths and teeth, and the trademark silly English humour are all there, albeit in less abundance than earlier Aardman work (“Chicken Run”, “Wallace & Gromit”), and for a younger audience. The frequent use of slapstick works a treat for smaller kids, and the assorted fruitcake characters work for everyone.Hugh Grant provides an English shape for the Pirate Captain, and his quest is nothing more than to win an award from his pirate peers. He's tried for 20 years without success and to be seen as a loser in their eyes is his biggest demon. But to win the award (a golden skull with a large garnet in one eye socket and cutlass through it), he has to at least show some 'booty' - which he is incapable of stealing. A humorous series of attempts at his boarding ships intent on robbing them carries the absurdist Aardman signature.There is great attention to the production design, with comic little touches everywhere, from street names and other signs to the many animal references - both stuffed and alive. One of the several incongruous insertions is the King Pirate, whose bejeweled white outfit instantly registers on the Elvis scale.The fun is divided between visual gags - like the ship smashing into port against a row boat, whose skipper surfaces at the wharf only to be smacked down again by the plank - and the adventure to save Pirate Captain's Polly. When they meet Charles Darwin, he identifies the much loved bird not as a parrot but the last of the extinct dodo, a valuable trophy to take back and show off to the Royal Society. Much is made of the Royal Society awards night, and the choice between the Award (and its riches) and the pet bird. For adults, the film is perhaps a modest pleasure, but young children will respond to the cracking yarn with a simple message about doing what's right.It's unique, it's Aardman, it's a delight.
Rated M (Coarse language), 113 mins
The Wind Rises
Rated PG (Mild themes), 127 mins
Rated M (Coarse language and sexual references), 115 mins
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