The Pirates: Band of Misfits

These Pirates are far more apt to say “Ahem” than “Yargh!”

“The Pirates: Band of Misfits” revolves around a comically inept Pirate Captain and his crew, who, in spite of being miserably inept on the high seas, insist on entering the Captain’s name in the annual “Pirate of the Year” competition. Having lost for over 20 consecutive years, their chances are slim. They’d actually be lucky just to avoid humiliation. They enter the competition regardless, however, partially to save face in front of Jeremy Piven and Salma Hayek’s more flamboyant Pirate characters.

While plundering and blundering their way along the high seas, consistently attacking ships with nothing to offer in the way of loot, a bizarre thing happens. Their “Parrot” is discovered to actually be a rare Dodo bird, long thought to be extinct. This causes the crew to shift gears temporarily and seek out the Scientist of the Year Award, in the mistaken belief that they can take the prize money earned and pass it off as booty, thus increasing their chances of winning Pirates of the Year. Unfortunately for them, this detours them back to England, where Queen Victoria is bitterly against Pirates. Their cover is soon blown, and the battle to escape – with their bird – is on.

“The Pirates: Band of Misfits” is wonderfully animated via claymation – a style that is really, really a lot of fun to watch. And here, the animation is fantastic. I don’t know that I can recommend the 3D aspect of the film, but aside from that, the movie is absolutely gorgeous to watch. The characters are all colorful, literally and figuratively, and the claymation lends a quirky sensibility to the entire movie.

Unfortunately, the film’s “sensibilities” are where it began to lose me a little bit. Namely its sense of humor. It is farrrrr to wry and dry for my taste. Now, understand that humor is a tough thing to universalize, so what I personally didn’t find funny, I recognize that others may find hysterical. That said, the humor here was subtle, clever and witty but… almost to a fault. I don’t know how to explain it, it just didn’t connect fully with me. I found it way too understated. Where’s the line between understated humor and just simply not being funny? Couple that with the fact that the action sequences fall way below my typical expectations for an animated movie, and you can begin to understand why I can’t give the movie an overly enthusiastic grade.

That concession aside, the movie was funny enough, and gorgeously animated as I mentioned before, it’s a solid movie to sit and watch from a visual standpoint. Plus I fully recognize that just because the humor isn’t necessarily my cup of tea, doesn’t mean that others wont love it. I would caution parents thinking of bringing their young ones though. The children in the audience I watched it with – who were DYING with laughter during the “Despicable Me 2″ Barbara Ann/Party Favor teaser trailer – were pretty much stone-cold silent the entire movie through. NOT a good sign. Personally? I think a lot of the jokes here are going to be WAY too subtle for kids.

B-  .

22 thoughts on “The Pirates: Band of Misfits

  1. My kids liked the Wallace & Grommet movies and short movies, so that is probably why they want to see this one. Same people did Pirates. I found the Wallace & Grommet’s humor kind of funny at times. I think it has to do more with the fact it’s a British film. Their sense of humor is quite different from ours, which you pointed out.

    This will probably be a film I would go see as a matinee with my kids, and you’re right, in a non-3D format. BUt by the time I make, it’ll be out of theaters.

    • Very different sense of humor, yes. But that doesnt always mean I dont find it funny. And this had its moments, but I have to admit, there were times when I was kind of bored. That’s not a good thing, you know?

      Skipping the 3d isnt going to change anything for you. There were times when I took off my glasses just to see if they were even trying to impart any effects (which would look blurred to the naked eye, as Im sure you know)

      They were, but just background stuff.

  2. So Fogs is an All-American Boy who prefers Over-The Top humor, eh? I never would have guessed! Hahaha!

    I find that I often enjoy British humor more when I watch it at home than in the theaters. There’s something about the more relaxed atmosphere that allows it to sneak up on me in a way that doesn’t seem to work as well when I’m in the theater paying really close attention.

    Great to hear that they held their own with the animation though!

    • Oh. The animation was awesome.

      And it’s not that I need things over the top. But I think kids definitely appreciate that… In this particular instance I just think the movie was too subtle with its humor. I found it… “Amusing” rather than funny.

  3. Despicable Me 2?!?! Despicable Me 2?!?! I’m afraid to get too excited about it, loved the 1st one so much!! Is Steve Carrell back as Gru?

    Oh, right, where were we,…Pirates, yah….love the look of claymation (who remembers Davy & Goliath), also have huge respect for the medium. Hate Wallace & Grommet, mostly because I don’t get it; and well, because I’m an American gal.

    Great review, Dan…enjoyed reading even though I have no intention of seeing the movie. :)

    • Thanks Kim!

      And yes, Despicable Me 2. Yes, Steve Carrell as Gru. :D I’m looking forward to it too. The first one was awesome.

      I dont really “Get” Wallace and Grommit, either. I wouldnt say that here, as… I GOT it. I just didnt think it was that hysterical or anything you know?

  4. I’ll probably be checking this out, since I enjoy both clay animation and wry humor, but I don’t know if I’ll be making it to the theatre for it. Maybe the second run theatre, we’ll see. Sorry it didn’t click with you, but at least it was failing to click for a reason you could identify as possibly just being a matter of personal taste.

    • Oh yeah. If youre a fan of their previous works – well, lets say Wallace and Grommit, because I actually like Chicken Run quite a bit more than this for whatever reason, then you’d probably like this. It’s definitely enjoyable and amusing. I just have to … tell people how much on a scale, you know? :D

  5. Like I said on Twitter, this film was better than I expected, but it certainly won’t be for everyone. I enjoyed it as someone who enjoys British/Aardman films but the kids in my audience were dead the whole time as well

    • Yeah, thats not a good sign from a kids film. Theyre usually a really responsive audience if the movie connects with them.

      I didn’t NOT like it, I just think… I wish I had connected more with it.

  6. I wanted to take jr. to watch this but my brother refused to review another kids movie this week
    ;-(

  7. Not that understated. After all if Ham Night is the best thing about being a pirate, there is very little that is “dry” in the film. The monkey with the dialogue cards was also not particularly subtle.

    • I dont know Rich, think we’ll agree to disagree there.

      Personally, I think those are both examples of dry humor.

      That said, hope you did enjoy it, I didnt think it was a bad movie by any means, just… not for me.

  8. It’s funny, but I have to agree that the film probably plays better for adults. I just reviewed it over at my page today if you get a chance to check it out. I thought it had too many plot points for its own good, but you had to love Polly right?

    I must’ve been in the same theater as you during that Despicable Me 2 trailer. The kids were laughing and reaching towards the 3D screen. Once Pirates! started there was very little laughter coming from the crowd.

    Although I died laughing when ‘I’m not Crying’ by Flight of the Conchords came on during the sad scene. Sure not everyone will pick up that the lyrics are incredibly amusing, but I loved it.

    • Yes. Points were scored there, I love the Conchords, too, I thought that was really funny.

      I mean, I didnt NOT like it. Maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood. I did like Polly, sure. And the monkey, he was funny. Just on the whole, I thought it was a bit too much on the “droll” side for my taste

  9. Maybe it’s just for the Aardman fans, but our little crowd of 4 – me and friend and our 9 y.o. kids – saw it this Sunday and loved it. I had a smile on my face the entire time. They had me from Ham Night. Plus my favorite Doctor Who as Darwin and an evil Queen Victoria nemesis was value added in my book. It was all just super fun. But I can understand it’s not up there with Monsters Inc or the best animated film of all time. I plan on seeing it again on disc to catch more of the background steampunk-y details.

    • Yeah, I definitely tried to acknowledge here that this should have scored higher if it wasn’t for my personal taste. It’s obviously well done. Totally high quality in terms of animation and the story is unique, so it scores lots of points.

      I guess I just wasn’t in tune with the sense of humor. I was grinning and stuff a lot, but it felt short of laughs.

      You’re not off base though at all. This is one I’m really willing to waive the flag on and surrender my position quickly. LOL :D

      • Thanks, I get that. It is a different style so taste is definitely a qualifier – the British humor is more subtle, but I’m more likely to lose it with their random offbeat jokes than I will with Despicable Me or Lorax, which I would’ve given B’s to B-. So that’s just my taste.

  10. Pingback: The Large Association of Movie Blogs | LAMBScores: The Pirates! Band of Misfits, The Five-Year Engagement, The Raven and Safe

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