Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Pirates! Band of Misfits (2012)

Seen: At the AMC/Loews at Boston Common, in 3-D.

Well, you know me. Stop-motion animation and silly jokes about British history... I'm there! Based on the series of novels by Gideon Dafoe (who also wrote the screenplay), The Pirates! Band of Misfits follows the luxuriantly-bearded Pirate Captain (actual name) and his loyal crew of adorable seamen as they fight for the "Pirate of the Year" award. In trying to plunder enough gold to nab the coveted title, they find themselves mixed up in a surprisingly scientific adventure involving Charles Darwin, rare animals, aeronautics, and an unexpectedly spry Queen Victoria.

Aw jeez how could I not be utterly charmed by this movie? I mean, it's just this super cute, completely irreverent bunch of nonsense wrapped in a beautiful stop-motion package, and the incredible voice cast is just the bow on top! It's got the general silly atmosphere and wonky facial expressions that I love about Wallace & Gromit, plus some truly impressive set pieces and visual design. The sight gags are plentiful, and often pretty smart, including the use of literal travel-by-map and a phenomenal bathtub chase down a long staircase, but it's the goofy dialogue that's strongest. The story becomes more and more ludicrous as it goes on, and so the script rises to the occasion with a wealth of weird jokes and self-aware observations.

Ok so mostly I really enjoyed this movie but there are times when it's too... kidsy? Like there are some jokes that are corny and easy. The strangest thing about the whole movie (aside from the sword-wielding evilness of Queen Victoria, which ruled) was the use of the Flight of the Conchords song "I'm Not Crying". Now, I loooove me some Flight of the Conchords but you can't really take their songs out of context, the whole time that track is playing in this movie I was picturing the scene in the show, and seeing Brett and Jemaine singing it. It just took me out of the film.

That voice cast though, seriously. Every other character was a new famous person I loved. Hugh Grant, David Tennant, Martin Freeman (!), Salma Hayek, Brian Blessed, Brendan Gleeson, Imelda Staunton, Anton Yelchin (!!)... it was great. Everyone did a good job.


Pair This Movie With: Is it too obvious to suggest Muppet Treasure Island? I DON'T CARE BECAUSE IT WOULD BE SO PERFECT A NIGHT.

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