The title says it all – this is a pirate adventure from those whizzes at Aardman Animation (Wallace & Gromit, etc), and yes, there are scientists along for the ride, too. Filmed using stop-motion animation (each fabulous plasticine-like character moved a millimetre for each frame), it’s the story of The Pirate Captain (Grant), the oddball leader (with an especially luxuriant beard) of a rag-tag bunch of rather useless pirates (including one girl pretending to be a boy who is billed as the ‘Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate’, and a parrot that isn’t a parrot). He wants to win the award for Pirate Of The Year and his quest leads the crew on an adventure involving treasure, Charles Darwin (Tennant), a monkey who declares his thoughts by holding up notecards, and a pirate-hating Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton).
While Grant doesn’t actually sound like himself at all, there are some terrific vocal characterisations from the cast, including Tennant, Staunton, Brian Blessen (Pirate King) and Jeremy Piven (the Captain’s rival, Black Bellamy), and story romps along gleefully. Like much of Aardman’s work, it has adventure and silliness by the boat-load, and a uniquely British sense of humour which is somewhere between Monty Python and the Carry On movies. It’s old fashioned, deliciously daft and packed with sight gags and fun one-liners that will amuse both adults and kids, and while it sags a little in the middle, it’s still a smile-raising treat throughout. Based on the first of Gideon Defoe’s kids’ books, it’s ideal for pirate-loving kids who aren’t old to see the Pirates Of The Caribbean movies just yet, and parents taken along for the ride will no doubt share a few of the sea-faring giggles, too.
Note – for the US release, the movie is called The Pirates! Band Of Misfits! Were the filmmakers worried the word ‘scientist’ would scare US audiences away?
Is The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists! suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
Very young children may find the ‘claymation’ animation a bit strange.
When the pirates arrive in London, it’s dark and creepy and we see a sign that says what will happen to pirates on the order of the Queen. Little children may be scared by this.