‘Misfits’ shines for all audiences

Todd Miller | Collegio Reporter

One of the best things about sifting through many dull or terrible movies throughout a year is uncovering the buried treasure that is a fantastically made movie. “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” is one such movie. I didn’t know what to make of the movie before I saw it, but I was glad I did afterwards.
“The Pirates! Band of Misfits” is based on the book “The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists,” and the movie shares the book’s title in its UK release. The film centers on a pirate crew led by the Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant). The Pirate Captain wants to win the prestigious pirate of the year award despite having lost the competition every year for the last 20-plus years. After a number of unsuccessful ship raids, the crew attacks a ship with Charles Darwin (David Tennant), who recognizes the Pirate Captain’s “parrot,” Polly, to be a thought-to-be-extinct Dodo bird. Darwin wants to take the bird to the Royal Academy in London to be entered in the scientist of the year competition.

The Pirates

The Pirates

Darwin wants to take the bird himself, but the Pirate Captain insists on doing it himself, wanting to use the money he could win from the competition to also win the pirate of the year competition. All of this takes place under the nose of Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton), who lives under the insignia of her royal crest, “I hate pirates!”
“Band of Misfits” is the best kids movie I’ve seen in a long time. It is so good that I’d hesitate to call it a kid movie. Rather, it is simply an animated comedy. The series the movie is based on was not intentionally marketed toward children since they, and the movie, require something of an appreciation for clichés and similar dialogue. However, this shouldn’t prevent children from enjoying it, too.
The movie’s plot is highly engaging. It may be a bit straightforward, but the lively and interesting characters make the whole thing wonderful to watch. The writers managed to make the main protagonist, the Pirate Captain, likable and sympathetic within the first 10 minutes of the movie. I usually grow to like a protagonist over the course of a film, but the filmmakers made the characters likable in such a short period of time.
I also particularly liked their use of most of the crew. The “main” crew that is followed in the story possess some unusual traits, but the wonderful part is that the movie doesn’t deviate from the plot to focus on these traits. Instead, they’re simply background details that we are aware of. It’s not much when dealing with the Pirate With Gout (Brendan Gleeson) or the Albino Pirate (Anton Yelchin (in the U.S. release)).
However, there is also the Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate (Ashley Jensen), who is clearly a woman with a fake beard. The fact that the movie never focuses on it, or makes it important (instead only using the audience’s knowledge to make some jokes), is so wonderful from a writing perspective. If something had become of the Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate’s (these are their credited names, by the way, and also how they’re referred to in the books) gender, I think it might’ve ruined the plot. But the filmmakers handle the humor and writing extremely well.
The only real criticism I have is the character Mr. Bobo, whom I infrequently didn’t like. Mr. Bobo is a nonspeaking character. Instead, he communicates with cards with words written on them. It’s done to great effect most of the time, but there are times when it falls short and seems like too much. This only happens when he addresses the audience rather than the characters.
The movie has some fantastic humor. Some of it made me actually laugh, while other times I simply rolled my eyes in response. All of it was handled well, though. So, although the jokes and gags range in humor, none of it negatively affects the film. Even the bad jokes make everything better.
I loved most of the music throughout the film. There were a couple tracks that I think they could’ve done without, but a great balance is struck with the rest of the music. I particularly like the music that usually surrounds Queen Victoria; a more menacing play on the cliché song you normally hear associated with London in TV and movies.
I highly recommend “The Pirates! Band of Misfits;” it’s a humorous and wonderfully written film. It goes beyond its expected boundaries of a kid movie and right into the realm where it can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike.

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