Pirates, albeit clumsy amateurish ones, are the heroes in Aardman Animation’s film The Pirates! Band of Misfits. Like so many new recruits who find themselves at the bottom of the career ladder, The Pirate Captain (voice by Hugh Grant) and his crew (voices of Martin Freeman, Anton Yelchin, Brendan Gleeson, Ashley Jensen and Al Roker) have aspirations to improve their status with their fellow plunderers. So despite years of dismal losses at the annual Pirate of the Year ceremony, the captain enters the competition again. And after being laughed out of the local watering hole, he and his crew vow to win the coveted skull trophy.
His chief rivals, Black Bellamy (voice by Jeremy Piven) and Cutlass Liz (voice by Salma Hayek) have already acquired a fair amount of booty—the essential element needed to be crowned the winner. In an effort to catch up with the other buccaneers, The Pirate Captain begins a disastrous ransacking rampage. Among the ships he attacks are a plague ship, a nudist ship and a scientific vessel occupied by Charles Darwin (voice by David Tennant).
Darwin isn’t the only historic figure to appear in the fictitious film. His socially awkward character is madly, but remotely, in love with Queen Victoria (voice by Imelda Staunton). When Darwin comes upon the crew’s mascot Polly, he’s positive he has found a scientific finding that will win the affections of the crabby, pirate-hating monarch. Meanwhile Darwin’s discovery about the sailors’ pet puts The Pirate Captain in the uncomfortable position of alienating his close-knit crew or suffering another crushing defeat at the marauders’ awards event.
For many audience members, The Pirates! Band of Misfits may be a film better suited for watching in the home theater—but not because the 3D animation doesn’t look spectacular on the big screen. Rather the filmmakers have paid arresting attention to the background elements that are as interesting as the main characters, yet difficult to fully appreciate in the pace of the action. Being able to pause and catch their full impact will likely add a whole new level of entertainment value.
However for parents that may understandably mistake this animation as kid friendly, approach this adventure with caution. Some of the violence is surprisingly vivid for young viewers including a couple of scenes where a sword and beheading axe are splattered with blood. Frequent fistfights, physical farce and weapon use are also depicted. As well, this romanticized portrayal of oceanic marauders is teeming with jokes that will swim over the heads of most children.
Although the Aardman studio has produced another visually impressive production, expecting these misfits to be suitable for everyone may be a whopper of a mistake.
Content Details: Beyond the Movie Ratings...
Violence: Frequent fistfights break out. Characters are also stabbed, beaten, punched, threatened and hit with objects such as a kitchen pan and rolling pin. Other weapons include knives, swords, cannons, fish, a meat cleaver and barrels. A woman repeatedly rehearses her hatred of pirates. A ship crushes a smaller boat and the occupant. Blood is seen on her sword after a woman stabs a man in the back without provocation. Blood splatters also appear on an axe that is about to be used to behead a man. A character ransacks a room destroying scientific evidence and decapitating a stuffed monkey. A pirate ship fires on other boats. A man discusses using babies as bait. Characters are hit in the face with pies. Others plan to eat endangered animals (the beasts are seen chained up in the kitchen).
Sexual Content: Brief drawings and other depictions of scantily clad mermaids are seen. The captain mistakenly boards a nudist ship—no graphic nudity is shown. A female pirate wears a midriff revealing shirt.
Language: Name-calling and other brief slurs are used.
Alcohol / Drug Use: The captain becomes drunk. Other characters are frequently seen drinking in the bar and in other social settings. Secondary characters smoke cigars and pipes.
Discussion Ideas: Talk About the Movie...
Although this film romanticizes pirates, what are the realities of life on the ocean? How do the pirates amuse themselves between raids? What would living conditions have been like?
How does The Pirate Captain let his pride determine his decisions? In what ways do youth and adults give in to peer pressure as well?
What does the Queen’s dinner plans on her boat say about the impact of British colonization? Learn more about the life and extinction of the Dodo bird.
The Pirates! Band of Misfits is created by Aardman Animations, the same creative force behind Chicken Run, Flushed Away, The Incredible Adventures of Wallace and Gromit, and Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit.
Home Video Notes
Home Video Notes: Pirates! Band of Misfits
Release Date: 28 August 2012
Pirates! Band of Misfits releases to home video in a Blu-ray (Blu-ray/DVD/UV Digital Copy) and 3D (Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/DVD/UV Digital Copy) version. Both packages include:
- Commentary with director Peter Lord, co-director Jeff Newitt, and editor Justin Krish
- So You Want To Be A Pirate? (Short film)
- Peter Lord short films
- 2 Behind-the-scenes featurettes
- 2 Interactive games
- Printable activity pages