A love-sick Darwin, a Dodo called Polly and Hugh Grant animated not only with floppy hair but also a fantastic beard are only a few of the reasons you should go and see the latest Aardman offering The Pirates! In an adventure with Scientists.
This tale on the high seas features the luxuriantly bearded Pirate Captain (imaginatively named ‘The Pirate Captain’), a slightly inept but very enthusiastic buccaneer, his oddball crew and their quest to win the Pirate of the Year award. Along the way they enlist the help of Charles Darwin, encounter Queen Victoria and eat a lot of ham.
Having been lured in by the wonderfully silly and in desperate need of some relief from dissertation hell I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from what is, after all, a kid’s film. Any worries about being too old to enjoy it soon disappeared however as we were too busy laughing. The gags are excellent and Aardman were on fine form with their signature level of detail in every scene with the background posters, pub names and decorations often as funny as the dialogue.
The plot sails along at such a pace you soon forget how ridiculous it is and settle back to enjoy the ride. Happily rewriting history and avoiding any attempt at realism directors Peter Lord and Jeff Newitt poke fun at everything and anyone, although even Aardman it seems are not immune from political correctness scandal.
With a combination of Aardman’s knack for portraying quirks and eccentricities and some excellent voice acting the characters manage to be lovable without being annoying, a rare balance in films aimed at kids. This was helped by the naming system – rather than name the pirates they’re called by descriptors such as “Pirate with Gout”, “Albino Pirate” and my personal favourite “Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate”. The cast seemed to be a best of British line-up including Hugh Grant, Martin Freeman, Imelda Staunton, David Tennant and even a cameo from Brian Blessed. Mercifully the film contains no irritating sidekicks or small children and the animal characters are genuinely amusing.
The animation was refreshingly plasticine based after the endless mass produced 3D film adverts we had to sit through before the viewing – the use of 3D computer animation to solve the problems of making plasticine waves didn’t affect the overall style. Surprisingly the soundtrack was also a highlight, avoiding an excess of sea shanties by featuring songs from The Clash and Flight of the Conchords.
So if you fancy some nautical comedy firmly suspend your sense of disbelief and prepare for two hours of laugh-out-loud silliness – the perfect dissertation break.