“Pirates! Band of Misfits” (2012) is a stop-motion animated film released by Aardman Animations. The story is based on the novel, “Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists” by Gideon Defoe, and the film is directed by Peter Lord and Jeff Newitt. To call this group of pirates “misfits” is an extreme understatement. They look nothing like the pirates we are used to seeing in films because instead of being fierce and dominating, they tend to make a mess of everything. Usually their attempts are bumbled by their beloved “Captain Pirate” (voiced by Hugh Grant). He fails as a pirate because he doesn’t know the first thing about plundering or killing or even stealing. He is far too concerned with the details of being a pirate, like the shimmer of his beard or “ham night”. Fortunately for Pirate Captain, he has managed to find a crew as disastrous as himself, including such delightful characters as “Number 2” (Martin Freeman), “Pirate with Gout” (Brendan Gleeson) and “Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate” (Ashley Jensen).
The plot of this film centers on “Captain Pirate” and his attempt to win the Pirate of the Year competition. He has entered to win this award each of the last twenty years, but has always lost to the serious pirates of the world like Peg-Leg Hastings (Lenny Henry), Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayek) and Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven). In order to achieve enough booty to win the award, “Pirate Captain” tries to steal from every ship he encounters, but his bad luck and lack of pirating skills keeps his treasure chests empty.
He does however meet Charles Darwin who is enamored by “Pirate Captain’s” parrot, Polly, explaining that she isn’t a parrot at all but the last surviving dodo. Darwin joins the misfits and they travel to London in order to win a science competition. Darwin has ulterior motives as he attempts to steal Polly in order to gain favor with Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton).
“Pirates! Band of Misfits” is a brilliant comedic adventure film loaded with laughs from beginning to end. Gideon Defoe adapted his own book, brilliantly retaining the humor from his story and giving this film a familiar feel for fans of the book. Hugh Grant does a fantastic job as “Pirate Captain”, which seems strange because he would never be able to pull it off in a live action film. One of the highlights of the film is Darwin’s trained monkey who works as a valet. Of all the characters in this film, the monkey is undoubtedly the most intelligent.
“Pirates! Band of Misfits” has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature this year, and of the five nominees, “Pirates!” was the biggest surprise. This is only Aardman Animations fifth full length feature, but they have certainly grabbed everyone’s attention with their beautiful stop-motion filming and their enchanting stories. Although a win in this category would be quite an upset (especially with all three of Disney’s nominees), of the five films “Pirates! Band of Misfits” is certainly the funniest.Back to Home for More Reviews