The Pirates! Band of Misfits

  • Review Date: April 26, 2012
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2012

Common Sense Media says

Pirate adventure blends Victorian history, high-seas fun.
  • Review Date: April 26, 2012
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2012

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

If they're paying attention, kids will learn some historical facts -- like that in 1837, Queen Victoria ascended the throne, or that that's when a young Charles Darwin was keeping his early notebooks about the environment. Obviously, there are some exaggerations and liberties taken with the truth, but the portrayals of the queen and Darwin are so amusing that kids are bound to want to learn more about whether they're real and what their place in history is.

Positive messages

Subtle messages about unconditional friendship, loyalty, tolerance, and what constitutes a family. The Pirate Captain's crew is indeed a bunch of misfits (an albino, a woman pretending to be a man, a peg-legged pirate, and a captain who can't seem to find any booty), but they stand by one another, even when times are dire. 

Positive role models

Pirates aren't exactly positive role models, but a couple of them act honorably. The Pirate Captain rescues his pet from the clutches of the movie's villain, even though he could have ended up in prison or dead. And pirate Number Two and the rest of the crew save the day, even though the Pirate Captain had betrayed them. On the flip side, Darwin is depicted as weaselly and selfish, and young Queen Victoria is homicidal and bloodthirsty when it comes to endangered animals.

Violence & scariness

Some gun, sword, and hand-to-hand violence. There are explosions and close calls, but no one is killed or permanently injured, although the queen must be subdued in order to save the Dodo bird that was going to be slaughtered and eaten. The pirates face off against ghosts.

Sexy stuff

Female pirate Cutlass Liz has noticeable cleavage, and the male pirates stare at her curves in one saloon scene. Darwin has an overwhelming crush on the queen and says her severe bun "does it for him." The Pirate Captain flirts with one of Darwin's female friends during a night at the pub. The "Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate" is actually a woman, and she ends up in a tub, but nothing is ever shown.

Language

Language includes infrequent use of "hell," "ass," and "crap," plus "idiot" and "stupid."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The pirates are often shown at a saloon or celebrating the Pirate of the Year Awards, so there's a noticeable amount of drinking (what looks like beer, wine, or mead/grog). The Pirate Captain gets drunk hanging out with Charles Darwin and his friends. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Pirates! Band of Misfits isn't your typical pirate adventure, but there's still action, mild high-seas peril, a little bit of colorful language ("hell," etc.), and some parent-targeted jokes about the two historical characters depicted in the movie: Queen Victoria and Charles Darwin. Although the pirates use guns and swords and have hand-to-hand fights, they don't face any real danger until the climactic battle with the queen; before that, their enemies are schoolchildren, lepers, and ghosts. That said, the queen is quite menacing, and Darwin is greedy in his attempts to steal from the pirates. But the pirates themselves, rather than being bloodthirsty and selfish, are more like a family that sticks together, loot or no loot.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Every year, the Pirate Captain (voiced by Hugh Grant) enters the prestigious Pirate of the Year contest and loses because his crew prefers to lie low and enjoy the simpler pleasure of "Ham Night" rather than engage in the bloody but profitable work of hardcore pirateering. When the contest's other contenders for 1837's title -- Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayek), Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven), and Peg Leg Hastings (Lenny Henry) -- poke fun at the Pirate Captain, he decides to embark on an aggressive campaign to take over other ships. But the plan is a failure ... until the captain storms the ship of Charles Darwin (David Tennant) and is told that his pet parrot is actually the thought-to-be-extinct Dodo bird. Darwin convinces the Pirate Captain and his crew to make landfall in London so the Dodo can win "untold riches" at an annual science conference. But what it really does is bring the pirates to the attention of the pirate-hating Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton), who has her own surprisingly nefarious reasons to want to keep the Dodo. 

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Fans of Aardman Studios' signature style of stop-motion clay animation (a la Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit), will find THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS a delightful mix of swashbuckling pirate adventure, Charles Darwin biography, and twisted Victoriana lesson. This isn't the kind of Queen Victoria anyone has ever seen before; this one is young, angry, and ready to squash anyone who gets in her way -- especially those dirty, outdated pirates. Tennant's Darwin is particularly hilarious and Machiavellian (which perhaps is in keeping with the legendary naturalist's theories) in his quest to control the Dodo bird. But the real scene-stealer is Darwin's trained butler, a monkey called Mr. Bobo who communicates via a series of index cards. "Uh" and "oh," he holds up whenever danger is imminent.

In his first voice-acting role, Grant is perfectly suited to his part as the Pirate Captain with a "luxuriant beard" and well-appointed pirate garb. His misfit crew includes an albino (Anton Yelchin), a "surprisingly curvaceous" pirate (Ashley Jensen) who's actually a woman with a fake beard, and a pirate with gout (Brendan Gleeson). The animation is what you'd expect from the detailed animators behind Wallace & Gromit, but it's the inventive story that makes The Pirates! so much fun for parents and kids alike. It's got plenty of grown-up jokes (mostly historical ones), but the humor is still accessible to little mateys, although those who've heard of Darwin will be in for a particularly "plunderful" treat.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why pirate movies are so popular. What is it about pirate tales that continues to be so compelling for movie audiences? How are the crew members in The Pirates! different than other movie mateys?

  • How does the movie depict Charles Darwin and Queen Victoria? Do you think that the characters are portrayed accurately? Is it OK for filmmakers to take liberties with historical figures for the sake of humor?

  • Some of the movie's jokes are specifically aimed at grown-ups; do you think too much of the humor is historical or for adults? Do you think jokes for parents are necessary in kids' movies?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:April 27, 2012
DVD release date:August 28, 2012
Cast:Hugh Grant, Jeremy Piven, Salma Hayek
Directors:Jeff Newitt, Peter Lord
Studio:Sony Pictures Animation
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Adventures, Misfits and underdogs, Pirates
Run time:87 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:mild action, rude humor and some language

This review of The Pirates! Band of Misfits was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written byJEDI micah April 28, 2012
AGE
7
QUALITY
 

CHARLES DARWIN is in this movie!

As a fan of Chicken Run and Wallace and Gromit, I thought this movie was pretty good! The claymation was absolutely the best out of all the other Aardman movies! As a pirate movie, there's some violence, not to mention that two people get stabbed by swords and die, but this is all British humor! Also, one female pirate may look a little bit inappropriate for little kids, but the movie doesn't show her a lot. At the beginning, there is a scene where the pirates drink beer, but they don't get drunk. Other than that, I like this movie and you will too if you like claymation!

What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent Written bypelicangirl April 29, 2012
AGE
7
QUALITY
 

Could be a bit scary for younger kids

The feel of the film may be a bit dark and creepy for some younger kids. My 5 year old needed to leave the theater several times when he felt it was getting too scary, but he was also interested enough that I was able to coax him back in to finish out the story. He did talk about the movie quite a bit afterward, and I realized there was a lot that he didn't understand. We ended up discussing endangered species and even colonialism, so for us it was a good catalyst for broadening his understanding of the world.

As an adult, I preferred some of my son's other recent favorites like Puss in Boots and Tin Tin.

What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Too much violence
Teen, 16 years old Written byRobbyboyfye16 April 27, 2012
AGE
5
QUALITY
 

bhukl

Claymation is back in the Best way posible.

What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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