This is a pretty charming film from one of the great independent animation houses – Aardman, home to Wallace and Gromit and famous for using stop-motion and claymation for feature-length features and Oscar-winning shorts. They also do the occasional CG project, like Flushed Away and the extremely enjoyable Arthur Christmas. All of their films are characterized by a definite English sensibility and gentle good humour combined with a lot of sight gags. Hugh Grant and Martin Freeman lead the voice cast, with Grant a natural for the conflicted, sensitive Pirate Captain.
The Pirates is based on a children’s book of the same name, following the lackluster career of The Pirate Captain and his band of men (one of whom is a woman, dressed as a man in order to be near her secret love). Their mascot is a “plump parrot” called Polly; when the pirates commandeer Charles Darwin’s ship The Beagle, Darwin realizes that Polly is in fact a long-lost Dodo and begs the captain to allow him to present this find to the royal academy of science in London. Complicating matters is the fact that Queen Victoria – at least in this story – hates pirates more than anything but also covets rare exotic animals. The well-meaning Pirate Captain soon must choose between a royal pardon and his beloved pet.
This is a pretty good movie with a lot of laughs. I would not say I enjoyed it as much as Arthur Christmas or Wallace and Gromit, but it is well worth the effort of seeing it on the big screen if you get the chance.