Film / The Pirate Movie

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The Pirate Movie is an Australian-made 1982 musical comedy film loosely based on The Pirates of Penzance, directed by Ken Annakin. It stars Kristy McNichol, Christopher Atkins, and Ted Hamilton.

It is framed as a movie-length dream sequence by Mabel (McNichol), a modern teenager who inserts herself into the story as the hero's love interest, allowing the inclusion of pop music and a lot of 20th-century pop culture references, as well as several moments of self-awareness by the characters.


This movie includes examples of:

  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: Possibly averted in Frederic's case. Then again, he doesn't seem to know what a virgin is, let alone whether he is one.
  • All Just a Dream: The story unfolds as a dream in a present day heroine's head, with her in the role of Mabel. When she becomes aware that it's her dream, she's able to orchestrate a happy ending.
  • Battering Ram: The pirates use a battering ram to... ring the doorbell. On their second charge, the butler opens the door and they charge through.
  • Bodybag Trick: After Frederic receives some bad news, he hides in a coffin to avoid breaking it to Mabel.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Mabel directly addresses the camera and audience several times. At the end, she actually stops the movie when the Pirate King threatens to have everyone killed by refusing to play along and insisting on a happy ending.
  • Brick Joke: Once scene features a swordfight where, after one fighter makes a perfect Diagonal Cut through a set of candles, the duelists stop to see whether the candles fall to pieces. The candles remain intact and the fight resumes. A few scenes later Mabel performs a musical number in the same room as the swordfight. After finishing her extended last note, she blows out the candle she's holding...and the candles in the room fall to pieces.
  • Camp Straight: Ted Hamilton's Pirate King dances all over the line of what would be considered campy, gay, manly, or straight; he can be imposing and powerful one minute and yelling a high-pitched scream the next. He also prominently wears a very puffy red vest. And a codpiece. Which squeaks when he honks it.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Frederic. A lot.
  • Door Judo: On the pirates' second attempt to use a battering ram on the Major General's front door, the butler opens the door for them, leaving them to charge into the mansion. The pirates then carry the ram up a spiral staircase for no reason before dumping it on the second floor.
  • Double Entendre: Probably half of the Pirate King's dialogue.
  • Film the Hand: One of the policemen spots the camera and pushes it down when it is trying to film a group of police beating up a single pirate.
  • Flat "What.": Frederic's reaction to being told of the contract's loophole.
  • Inexplicably Awesome: The Pirate King is always a bit daffy, same as everyone else, but The Pirate Movie takes it to new levels; he has apparent superpowers like leaping up to the second story during a sword fight, slashing a statue straight in half with his sword, pointing his sword like a gun at some mugs to shatter them, escaping from a coffin run through with swords like a magic trick, and a booming sonic shout.
  • Instant Soprano: The enemy Chinese pirate says/sings "Spare me!" and the Pirate King says, "Ooh, an Irish Tenor, no less! We could use an Irish Tenor, lads!" He accidentally stabs the man in the crotch and the guy goes "yeeOOOWWW" in a very high-pitched voice. "Soprano! Even better."
  • Meadow Run: When Mabel first sees Frederic on the beach. Somehow they end up riding horses on the beach moments later.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Mabel to Frederic at one point, albeit jokingly.
    Mabel: I mean, the way you and that Pirate King get around in those rather feminine pleated shirts and all that leather...
    Frederic: Mabel!
    Mabel: Hey, I'm not prejudiced. I mean, what does this country have a Navy for? Screw 'em if they can't take a joke!
    Frederic: You're weird.
  • Of Corsets Sexy: The Pirate Movie did wonders to bust Kristy McNichol's tomboy image, partly thanks to the wardrobe.
  • Or Are You Just Happy to See Me?: The Pirate Captain is asked: "Is that a knife in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?" It is a knife in his pocket, but he is also glad to see her.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: When Mabel wakes up in the real world, she is wearing the ring Frederic gave her.
  • Pair the Spares: At the end, Mabel pauses the action, arbitrarily pairs up the pirates with her various sisters and the Pirate King with Ruth, then notices that two pirates are left over...and puts them in each others' arms too.
    • They even end up dancing together in the final big musical number. How's that for progressive.
  • Pie in the Face: During the brawl at the climax, a cart of pies is wheeled out and a character predicts a pie fight — turns out it's pizzas being thrown around instead.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Mabel.
    Mabel: Hiding? My Frederic, hiding? It cannot be the lionheart trembles at the coming conflict. My love; a wimp!
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: At the end, the shortest pirate is paired with Mabel's largest sister.
  • Two Words: Added Emphasis:
    Pirate King: I can explain this to you in two words: It's a Beach Party. And I am Frankie Avalon!
    Samuel: And I'm Annette Funicello!
  • Walk on Water: Subverted. Frederic looks like he's walking on water, but he's actually walking in very shallow water... until he steps off a ledge and falls in.
  • Walk the Plank: Frederic is forced to do so when he leaves the pirate ship.
  • You Do Not Have to Say Anything: The lead policeman reads "Anything you say may be taken down..." to which all the Stanley daughters yell "Knickers!"

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