The Pirates! Band of Misfits – The Pirate Captain has the full respect of his crew but what would really make his life complete is to win first prize at the ‘Pirate of the Year’ competition. Realising that he doesn’t stand a chance against his rivals, he comes across Charles Darwin, and finds out that the crew’s precious parrot, Polly, is actually a Dodo, a species long thought extinct. Darwin, with his own agenda, persuades The Pirate Captain to take Polly to England, home of pirate-hating Queen Victoria. Can The Pirate Captain see through the charade to make the right choice between his ambition and the wishes of his crew?
The Pirates! Band of Misfits (Also known as ‘In an Adventure with Scientists’) (2012) – Director: Peter Lord, Jeff Newitt
Running Length: 88 mins
Starring: Hugh Grant, Martin Freeman, David Tenant
Genre: Action/Adventure, Animated, Comedy
‘THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS’ REVIEW
Loosely based upon the novel of the same name by Gideon Defoe, ‘The Pirates! Band of Misfits (or ‘In an Adventure with Scientists’) is a 3D stop-motion animated comedy movie from UK powerhouse animation studios Aardman Animations (also known for such classics as ‘Wallace and Gromit’ and ‘Chicken Run’). It’s difficult to go wrong with a swashbuckling story about pirates and with the interesting addition of Charles Darwin, what could be a good but predictable movie manages to push the boundaries to be an entirely new story.
The Pirate Captain (voiced by Hugh Grant) and his crew are all incredibly likeable. Their somewhat innocent outlook sets them apart from the other, more ruthless pirates and thankfully even though The Pirate Captain aspires to greatness, he never aspires to the aggressive and barbarous pirates that make up his competition. With most of the plot being focused on the pirates’ interactions with Charles Darwin, the juxtapositions between the old world and the new creates a fresh take on tired tropes and asks the question, is the new world actually better than the old?
While a lot of people may not be keen on the humour due to a lot of cheeky innuendo, the likeable characters and fun, enjoyable story of ‘The Pirates! Band of Misfits’ are bound to make some firm fans and will continue to entertain kids and adults alike for years to come.
IS ‘THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?
The movie opens aboard a ship where pirates are fighting amongst themselves. They hit each other over the head and one is thrown against a wall. Shortly afterwards, this is shown to be in good, albeit boisterous, fun and the pirates are all friends.
A pirate is introduced to the movie and, in order to show their ruthlessness, kills a man for no reason. While this is done quickly to an incidental character, mostly off-screen, some parents may be unhappy about the unnecessary and casual nature of this death.
A seemingly dead whale crashes into a tavern, a man is sitting at a table and is suddenly crushed when the whale’s mouth opens to reveal a pirate who has clearly been using the whale as a ship. At the end of this scene, the outside of the tavern is shown and the whale blinks, indicating that it is still alive.
The pirates attempt unsuccessfully to raid several ships, one of these is a plague ship where a man is a pale green colour, he is very friendly, even when his arm falls off! There is no blood, gore or suffering. Another ship is full of naturalists, objects are strategically placed to ensure nothing explicit is seen, however it is obvious that they are all naked.
There is a fair amount of dialogue that is casual about violence, for instance, one character says ‘I do enjoy running people through’ to which another replies ‘You’re brilliant at it’. Another says that he is ‘about to meet a watery grave’ when being forced to walk the plank. One character says ‘People who live alone are always serial killers’ and, in a comically macabre moment, a character says ‘I used babies as squid bait’.
There is also plenty of dialogue which has cheeky but relatively mild sexual innuendo. One character says that one of the best parts of being a pirate is ‘scantily-clad mermaids’; on a competition entry the options for the different types of shanty’s are ‘loud’, ‘rousing’ and ‘explicit’. Another character bemoans the fact that he will ‘never get to second base with a lady’ and later says of another character ‘her bum really does it for me!’ A scientist extolls the virtues of his new invention, an airship, but ultimately ‘mostly it’s for looking down ladies’ tops’ which is met by sombre applause by several men in the audience; there is an accompanying drawing of a buxom woman who is being ogled by a man above her in one of the airships, a dotted line from his eyes to her chest emphasising the point. Later, when in an airship, a character says ‘It’s true, you can see down ladies’ tops!’
A character is due to be executed and is forced to his knees and his neck is placed onto a chopping block. The executioner raises the axe and brings it down swiftly, the camera cuts to another character slicing up a sausage, the inside looking like what would have been left of the neck.
CAN I SEE A CLIP?
VERDICT – IS ‘THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS’ FOR KIDS?
This fun, exciting and very cheeky movie may be a little too risqué for some but it manages to take a pirate movie and do something entirely different with it which can only be commended. In all, the content of ‘The Pirates! Band of Misfits’ should be appropriate for kids aged six and over however, the dialogue (some of which is clear enough to be understood by kids) may be off-putting for a lot of parents so supervision is recommended.
- Violence: 1/5 (a pirate falls into the ocean, a second later the animation changes to show a ship travelling across a map, when this happens, the pirate disappears as he is surrounded by circling shark fins, implying that this man could have been killed. The trophy for the ‘Pirate of the Year’ competition is a golden skull with a knife stabbed through it)
- Emotional Distress: 1/5 (the life of the ship’s beloved ‘parrot’, Polly, is threatened on a few occasions and the crew become mildly upset when they feel she could be hurt)
- Fear Factor: 1/5 (there is a brief five seconds shot of a house which looks like a typically ‘haunted mansion’. It is shown at night so the house itself is black and the accompanying music is very ominous.
- Sexual Content: 2/5 (a lot of risqué innuendo. A man falls into a bathtub which is occupied by woman – albeit one masquerading as a man – although the bubbles cover her nudity completely.
- Bad Language: 2/5 (infrequent cursing but some words stronger than might otherwise be expected of a ‘U’ rated movie, such as ‘crap’, ‘arse’ and when one character is subtitled, he says ‘are you out of your &!@$! mind?’)
- Dialogue: 2/5
- Other Notes: Deals with themes of friendship, ambition, loneliness, trickery, insecurity, loyalty, innovation and invention in Victorian Britain (in a comical and exaggerated way) and the pirate life.
Words by Laura Record