REVIEW (Grade: B+)
By Jonathan Decker
There's a moment in Peter Pan, Disney's classic 1953 animated feature, in which Captain Hook shoots a fellow pirate whose singing annoys him. Though the actual death occurs off-screen, it's moment of dark humor of the kind that pops up occasionally in The Pirates- Band of Misfits, the delightfully rowdy new offering from Aardman Studios, the animation team that brought us Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run, Arthur Christmas, and Flushed Away. That type of dark humor, along with the glamorization of a plundering lifestyle, may be a concern to some parents while others will find it all to be harmless fun. After all, children have dressed as pirates for Halloween and enjoyed the Disneyland ride for decades without losing their sense of right and wrong. Whether this movie is appropriate for your kids is a choice I leave with you. As for the film's entertainment value, in approaching pirates as if they were the rock stars of the seas it displays a delightful wit and an infectious silliness.
The impressive vocal cast of Hugh Grant, Salma Hayek, Jeremy Piven, David Tennant, Martin Freeman, and Imelda Staunton bring real personality to their characters (including a Charles Darwin plagued with romantic insecurity and Queen Victoria portrayed here with an explosive temper). Most impressive is the stop-motion animation. Taking years to realize, shot one-frame at a time, there is a texture to the sets and models that pops out nicely in 3D. The story isn't especially strong, but that matters little when there's so much fun to be had. Well-paced, frequently hilarious, and supported by a toe-tapping rock soundtrack, this Pirates film is far more enjoyable than any in the Johnny Depp series (except the first one, which remains the gold standard of pirate movies).
CONTENT OVERVIEW: The Pirates- Band of Misfits is rated PG. There is one comical use of the “a-word” as well as some swordplay, punching, and gunfire. A pirate captain is shown drunk. A female pirate with an exposed abdomen swivels her hips seductively while walking, with male pirates ogling her. The only other concern parents may have is that the heroes are thieving pirates, and thus not very good role models.
MESSAGES TO DISCUSS: We ought not to put the love of riches or the vain seeking of praise above loyalty to our friends.
Jonathan Decker is the clinical director of Your Family Expert. He is a licensed marriage and family therapist, husband, and father of five. Jonathan earned a masters degree in family therapy from Auburn University as well as a bachelor's degree in clinical psychology from Brigham Young University. He is an actor, author, and television personality.