x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

The Pirates! Band of Misfits delivers fun-filled entertainment

The script isn't always yo-ho-ho funny, but there's enough here to amuse all ages.

The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Directors: Peter Lord, Jeff Newitt
Starring: Hugh Grant, Martin Freeman, Jeremy Piven, Salma Hayek, David Tennant
***

Forget Johnny Depp and his Pirates of the Caribbean; this latest offering from Aardman gives pirating a much-needed makeover. Adapted from Gideon Dafoe's book, The Pirates! Band of Misfits is a typically idiosyncratic comedy from the British animation company behind Wallace and Gromit. Who else would make a 3D puppet pirate pic, casting the rom-com king Grant as a hopeless high-seas adventurer? The film is set in 1837 and Grant's genial Pirate Captain is desperate to win Pirate of the Year - no mean feat when he's up against Black Bellamy (Piven), a pirate so successful he arrives on a whale spewing gold coins. With his booty haul risible, Pirate Captain is left a laughing stock. But his luck changes when he encounters evolutionary theorist Charles Darwin (Tennant), kicking off a bizarre adventure involving an extinct bird, a pirate-hating Queen Victoria and a group of very silly scientists.

Co-directed by the Aardman founder Peter Lord, The Pirates! may lack the nostalgia evoked by the cheese-eating Wallace and his pet pooch Gromit, but it boasts the same blend of daft jokes, beautiful homespun animation and vivid voice work (even if Piven is effectively ripping off his Entourage role). The script isn't always yo-ho-ho funny, but there's enough here to amuse all ages. And it's so refreshing to find a kids' film that doesn't feel the need to wink ironically, Shrek style, to all the adults in the audience.

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