The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Vocal cast: Hugh Grant, David Tennant, Martin
Freeman, Jeremy Piven, Salma Hayek, Imelda Staunton
Director: Peter Lord
Hoist the mainsail, grab your cutlasses and hold onto your gizzards - cos there are pirates about.
In this latest from the stunningly brilliant Aardman Animation, Hugh Grant stars as the Pirate Captain, the leader of a band of relatively inept pirates, who sail the sea having adventures, but not really grabbing the glory and the spoils.
So, when the Pirate Captain decides this is the year he will take out the famed Pirate of the Year trophy to show the lads and the world he's not an idiot, he realises he has to step up his game.
Out on the plunder, Pirate Captain and the gang come across Charles Darwin (David Tennant) who tells them that parrot Polly which the Cap keeps on his shoulder is actually an extinct dodo. And that if the dodo's presented to the world's scientists, the Cap could get the fame and reward he deserves.
With that in mind, the gang head for the presentation - but will the Captain give up everything for the pursuit of fame?
An unabashed joy, The Pirates!Band of Misfits is an animated family pleasure from beginning to end, replete with a belly full of mirth and laugh out loud moments.
There's an inspired lunacy in the lushly painstakingly done stop animation from Aardman - which to be honest, you would totally expect from a project like this one. There are jokes packed within the frames of the film as it plays out making it something for the adults as well as the kids.
The key players are impressive too - with Grant channelling some of that foppish insecure charm he's been rocking for the majority of his career as the Pirate Captain loses his grip on what makes him great; equally, Martin Freeman is brilliant as Number 2, the support of the ship - and the animated version looks stunningly like him. Tennant is good as Darwin but his thunder is somewhat stolen by Mr Bobo, a mute chimpanzee butler who communicates via speech cards.
Throw into the mix, a Flight of the Conchords song and a cameo from all of people, The Elephant Man and you can get a sense of what Aardman's managed to channel here - The Pirates! Band of Misfits is good fun, a reminder of how simpler can still be effective and appealing to audiences of all ages.