I like pirates. I enjoy inherently silly things. I’m an admirer of Aardman Animations, having greatly enjoyed Wallace & Gromit and Chicken Run. I guffawed at the trailer for The Pirates! Band of Misfits enough times that I ventured out to see a children’s movie on a Sunday afternoon all by my lonesome, then felt super awkward when dads started filing in with their kids. So it’s with some puzzlement that I report that Pirates! has few belly laughs, and perhaps worse, nothing that makes it particularly memorable.
For a film with a runtime of 88 minutes, the first half-hour feels like a laborious set-up for a plot that doesn’t really need to be set up. The Pirate Captain (voiced by Hugh Grant) doesn’t exactly inspire fear on the high seas, manning a crew that’s strictly amateur hour; each one has as descriptive a name as their captain, such as the Pirate with a Scarf (Martin Freeman), the Pirate with Gout (Brendan Gleeson), or my personal favorite, the Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate (Ashley Jensen), a play on that old trope whereby girl pirates disguise themselves as boy pirates. Despite his ineptitude, the Cap’n still has his sights set on winning the Pirate of the Year trophy.