The Pirates! Band Of Misfits (2012)

Rating: ***
Release Date: 4/27/12
Cast: Hugh Grant, Salma Hayek

Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant) is a bumbling buffoon and the laughing stock of the pirate community. Against all common sense, he decides to compete with the world's finest for the coveted "Pirate Of The Year" award, with disastrous results. A chance meeting with a pathetic Charles Darwin sets Pirate Captain and his crew of misfits on a collision course with Queen Victoria of England, who is obsessed with destroying all pirates. In his misguided efforts to achieve fame and notoriety, Pirate Captain sells out and betrays his friends, which leads to humiliation, despair, and the inevitable journey of redemption.

Not surprisingly, the clichéd story is weak and most of the humor falls flat. However, there are a few choice bits snuck into the script that adults will pick up on. Hugh Grant gives a delightful performance as the arrogant and idiotic captain, but the real draw is Aardman Studio's stunning stop-motion animation. As expected, the animation is stunning, full of vivid colors and textures, and the hand crafted attention to detail is wonderful. I think what sets this technique apart from contemporary computer animation is the lighting. Everything in this world looks tangible and real, as if you could pick it up and touch it. Computer generated imagery hasn't been able to emulate that tactile sensation or that amount of physical depth yet. That said, CGI is used in the film to good effect, but it's simply a tool and not the focus. The film also features one of the most amazing closing credits sequences I've ever seen, and I'm still trying to wrap my brain around how they pulled it off. Very impressive stuff.

What surprised me most about the film is the trailer for it, which features music from Quiet Riot, The Clash, and The Sex Pistols. The music of my generation, which was considered filthy, violent, hateful, sexist, socially reprehensible, and culturally bankrupt is now being used to sell kids movies. The stuff that brought the PMRC into being is now elevator music and family entertainment. This just blows my mind.