Aardman has struck gold again. The iconic clay-mation company, who have speared projects Chicken Run and Wallace and Gromit, release treasure in The Pirates! Band of Misfits. It’s exciting, engaging, and…it’s British. The cartoon has that subtle yet hilarious humor that the UK goes nuts over. The jokes don’t depend on potty humor or subdued violence to get it’s audience cracking, but the question is: can an American audience appreciate this?
Pirates revolves around Pirate Captain and his misfit crew who desperately wish for the coveted Pirate of the Year Award. Despite keeping a losing streak for twenty years, they enter again, much to the entertainment of their superior, flamboyant competitors. Despite their slim chances of winning, Pirate Captain leads its crew on a rigorous voyage to capture any ships on the seven seas; if they strike, the award is all theirs. Well, of course, they come up dry, until they meet Charles Darwin (yes, father-of-evolution Darwin). From then, the movie explodes with tons of adventure and many laughs along the way…for some at least.
Actually, Pirates engages its audience on several levels. The animation was entrancing, puzzling (“How did they make that out of just clay?”), and gorgeous. The pace never slows down; new adventures are continually popping up. And for me, the comedy was ingenious and on-spot; but some may not feel that way. Though it succumbs sometimes, Pirates doesn’t rely on violence or poop jokes to be funny. But for an American audience, is this a good thing for ticket sales? Americans are used to jokes that don’t take a whole lot of thinking. Take the reboot of the Three Stooges for example. (Also, the kids in the theater cracked up over the punching minions in the Despicable Me 2 trailer and sat quietly during the actual film). Just some advice: If you (and your kids) are willing to stay up and pay attention to the movie to be entertained, you’ll love Pirates.
Overall, Pirates is the heartwarming, swashbuckling adventure it promises. The characters are fun, the animation is striking, and the humor is rich. Aardman provides another opportunity to laugh your booty off (if you look very closely, you’ll notice I used a pirate pun ever-so-subtly).