The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! (PG)
(aka "The Pirates! Band of Misfits")
Aardman; Great but Forgotten; IMDb; Rotten Tomatoes; Sony Pictures; Sony Pictures Animation; TV Tropes; Wikia; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; Google Play; Hulu; iTunes; Movies Anywhere; Vudu; YouTube
This came out in 2012. I picked up a used DVD of it in 2017, but it wouldn't play. In 2019, I got a triple-feature DVD set that included this movie, which I finally watched in 2020. (I'm using the original British title of the film instead of the American one, because I just like it better.) And um... this was kind of a bad time for me, as far as writing movie reviews goes. I was behind on a few DVDs I had recently watched, and that's on top of my anxiety that rises every time I try to motivate myself to work on this kind of thing. So... it was several days after I watched the movie that I finally forced myself to write this review, by which point I couldn't remember all the details, nor how much I actually liked it. So I'm making my best guess for my rating. It's actually slightly lower than my rating for the related short film So You Want to Be a Pirate!, which was a bonus feature on the DVD, and which I wrote a review for right after watching it. I just want to say that I'm not sure I actually liked the short more than the main film, but it's possible. Anyway, on with the plot!
There's a pirate captain whose name, apparently, is simply The Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant, though I didn't recognize his voice at all). He has a crew of pirates who also have names that are merely descriptive of them. His first mate, for example, is called the Pirate with a Scarf (Martin Freeman). By the time I wrote this review, I didn't actually remember most of the other pirates, and in fact I'm not sure how many I felt like I became familiar with at all at the time I was watching the movie. Though there is one called the Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate, who... I don't recall being particularly curvaceous, but I do certainly remember thinking it was obvious she was a woman disguised as a man, and that it was funny none of the other pirates seemed to realize this. (Although to be fair, it was a much more convincing disguise than most other women or girls I've seen disguised as men or boys in various other movies.) Anyway, the Pirate Captain is eager to win the Pirate of the Year award, which is awarded by the Pirate King (Brian Blessed). Unfortunately, the Pirate Captain and his crew have mostly bad luck when finding ships to plunder.
However, one ship they attack just so happens to be the Beagle, on which Charles Darwin (David Tennant) is traveling. Darwin realizes that the Captain's parrot, Polly, is actually a dodo. He believes the discovery of a supposedly extinct bird could win the Scientist of the Year award, which comes with a fabulous prize. So he convinces the Captain to let him go, with the promise that the prize from that competition could be used by the Captain to win the Pirate of the Year competition. Darwin wants to enter the contest himself, but the Captain and his crew disguise themselves as scientists to enter the competition. Meanwhile, Darwin and his chimpanzee, Mr. Bobo (who uses flash cards to communicate), try to birdnap Polly for themselves. Also meanwhile, Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton) wants the Navy to eliminate all the pirates in the world, because she hates pirates, and because she wants Britain to have complete control of all the ocean routes, or whatever. And of course, there are other, more successful pirates competing for the Pirate of the Year award. And again, I don't remember most of them, aside from Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayek), whose role in the movie I was expecting to be larger than it was. But at least she was memorable for being the only female pirate captain in the competition (and surely the hottest woman I've ever seen in an Aardman production).
Well, skimming Wikipedia's recap of the plot reminds me of a bunch of other stuff that happens in the movie, but it's all stuff I don't want to spoil. So I guess I'll end my review here, and just say that it's an enjoyably absurd and amusing movie, with plenty of anachronisms, and um... yeah, that's all I can think to say. (Except that it's odd, reading the acting credits on Wikipedia, that most of the cast is the same in both the British and and American versions of the movie, but a couple of characters had different actors in the U.S. version. That doesn't make any sense to me.)