Movie Review: “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” – Hilariously Inaccurate

Written by Pam-Marie Gx May 18, 2012

Cashing in on the popularity of the pirate comes the newest film by the team that brought us “Wallace and Gromit” and the very under-appreciated “Flushed Away”, Aardman Animations. “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” follows the Pirate Captain (played by the always charming Hugh Grant) and his crew as they seek to gain the fortunes needed to win the Pirate of the Year Award. Pirate Captain finds enemies and ill fortune at every turn, including Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton) herself.

Not for Kids

This movie does a very good job of shouting out to the various pirate-themed movies to come before. Not wanting to spoil anything, my favourite has to be the nod to “Muppet Treasure Island“. These shout-outs, along with some buxom mermaids, make it pretty clear from the start that, animated or not, this movie isn’t exactly intended for children. Much of the humour is very adult, and there are a number of scandalous remarks, especially by Salma Hayek‘s character, Cutlass Liz.

The Crew

The number of characters in “The Pirates!” is fantastic, varying from a surprisingly curvaceous bearded individual to a very angry Queen Victoria and a very awkward and terrible Charles Darwin. They’re all very well-done, and the exposition is kept pretty light. To say that the portrayals of Victoria and Darwin are inaccurate is… putting it lightly. I mean, of course Darwin had a wife! True, she was his cousin, but… hmm.. perhaps the truth is less attractive than fiction… Moving on!

Flight of the Pirates

The music and animation need to be mentioned, because they are both equally amazing. While the style might not be for everyone, the people at Aardman know what they’re doing with it, and it’s easy to get lost in the settings. The times when they move away from the claymation style, mainly during map travel, is well-executed, and rather cute. With clean transitions and a general feeling of silliness, it’s easy to ignore any awkward inconsistencies. One of the most epic parts, however, has to be the use of a Flight of the Conchords song. I won’t spoil it by saying which one or when, but man oh man is it great.

The Mildly Unfortunate

No movie, except possibly “The Avengers“, is perfect, and so comes the time for me to complain about minor things I found irritating. The characters, while amusing, do get a bit one-note. Darwin’s obsession with getting a girlfriend and Victoria’s obsessive hatred of pirates may be funny at times, but there is a definite one-dimensionality to the characters. The pirates themselves tend to be slightly more developed, but still repeat the same notes over and over again. It seems that the movie recognizes the issue in some ways, and makes fun of itself for it, but the problem is still there.


In total, “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” is pretty hilarious, and certainly recognizes that the genre has been perhaps overdone at this point. I wouldn’t object to this being the last of the pirate movies seen for some time (although we all know a fifth “Pirates of the Caribbean” is in the works). Just don’t go using it to write your history exam…

My Rating: 8/10

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About Pam-Marie Gx

Pam-Marie Gx

Reader, writer, student, movie-goer, drinker of rum - Pam-Marie is all these things, and more! She has a large appetite for both media and caffeine, and spends most of her time with some sort of electronic device close at hand. You can follow her on Twitter @PamMarieGx. She may even occasionally be amusing.

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