Western Animation: The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists
The Pirate Captainnote Yes, that's his actual name and his very oddparrot, Polly.
"It's only impossible if you stop to think about it!"
The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! is a Claymation film directed by Peter Lord and made by Aardman Animations based on the pirate stories of Gideon Defoe. It's Aardman's first full-length stop-motion film in seven years.Outside the UK, the film was marketed under the title of The Pirates! Band of Misfits.The film features a nameless crew of pirates (who are only referred to by description, as in "The Pirate With Gout," "The Albino Pirate," and "The Pirate Who Likes Kittens and Sunsets") who aren't very good at piracy but are incredibly enthusiastic about it. The Pirate Captain is obsessed with winning the Pirate of the Year Award so he can at last earn the respect of his peers, but his incompetence renders this almost impossible.To earn the prize, the crew navigates a ridiculously exaggerated caricature of Victorian London, running afoul of Charles Darwin, Jane Austen, and the Elephant Man, and braving the hellish wrath of Queen Victoria (whose official royal motto is "I hate pirates!")
This film shows examples of:
The Ace: Black Bellamy, much to the Pirate Captain's frustration.
Acrofatic: Queen Victoria in the climactic fight scene.
Adaptational Heroism: In the original book, the pirates are rather disdainful of each other and even casually execute one of their own when the crew becomes too large. In the film, they're True Companions.
Darwin has a crush on Queen Victoria, who couldn't care less about him. Also, it's implied that the Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate has feelings for The Pirate Captain, who has no idea she's even female. Darwin gets over Victoria, while Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate's plotline is left unresolved.
According to Peter Lord, The Pirate Captain has a bit of an unrequited crush on Cutlass Liz which is hinted at in his Dream Sequence.
The movie states at the very start that the year is 1837, which instantly confuses a few things. Victoria was queen at this point, but only just. Darwin was already famous in scientific circles by now. The film also features cameos from Jane Austen and Joseph Merrick. In 1837, the former was already dead and the latter was yet to be born.
The Pirate Captain's competitors for Pirate of the Year show up in the Barnacle's Face tavern in Reverse Order of Awesomeness. Peg Leg Hastings swings through the door. Cutlass Liz blows a hole in the wall with a hand-held cannon. Black Bellamy arrives inside a whale full of gold doubloons.
The Pirate King's principal method of travel seems to be by giant, Vegas-esque clam shell.
Big Fancy House: Darwin has one. With the pirates inside, though, it doesn't last long.
Black Comedy: Just by the trailers there seems to be a lot of it.
Black and Gray Morality: On one hand, we have the murdering, looting pirates that want nothing but fame in the pirate world, on the hand we have the Queen of England, who is definitely not shown in a sympathetic light.
Bowdlerise: Executive Meddling is to blame for this in the American release. The title was changed for the official reason that the longer title wouldn't take, Albino Pirate's lines were redubbed with an actor known by American audiences, an announcer was redubbed by Al Roker, and any jokes that were deemed too inappropriate were removed entirely.
The best thing about the airship being that it allows its users to look down women's tops. (Bowdlerised in the American version to being a "chick magnet" instead.)
When depressed about being mocked at the Pirate of the Year Award signups, The Pirate Captain makes a crack about "getting into baby clothes" instead. Guess what he's doing after being cast out of pirate society?
Broken Pedestal: The Pirate Captain becomes this for his crew when they discover that he sold Polly to Victoria. He wins back their approval by saving her.
The pirates in the movie are so proud of being pirates they hold a "Pirate of the Year" awards and pirates who receive pardon for their crimes are disqualified for the prize and banned from Bloody Island. When Queen Victoria revoked Pirate Captain's pardon and set the reward for his capture to be higher than the reward for any other pirate on the world, Pirate Captain actually liked it.
On the other side of things, Victoria's royal crest literally says "I Hate Pirates!"
End of an Age: This is why Victoria hates pirates; the modern world she envisions has no place for them and their old-fashioned way of life. She's ultimately proven wrong when the Pirate Captain triumphs over her.
The Ham Nite scene serves as one for the pirate crew in general.
Black Bellamy's flashy entrance.
Darwin's first scene has him writing in his journal about discovering a new species of barnacle and generally being all Darwin-ish, then he says this; "I'll never get a girlfriend. I am so unhappy."
Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: The Pirate Captain and his crew (which include The Pirate With A Scarf, The Albino Pirate, The Pirate With Gout, The Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate, and The Pirate Who Likes Sunsets and Kittens).
Besides the title change, the American release cuts out a few of the more risque jokes and redubs the Albino Pirate's lines with Anton Yelchin for apparently no reason.
This was also the movie that caused Flushed Away to end up being released in 2006 as it was planned that the next movie after Chicken Run would be a pirate movie. DreamWorks nicked it claiming at the time, they weren't marketable.
Exotic Entree: A recreational hobby for all the world's leaders. Queen Victoria somewhat uses this in an Eviler than Thou speech aimed at the Pirate Captain.
Queen Vicky has an obsession with eating endangered animals to extinction, seemingly just because she can. And judging from her rant in the opening scene, she also has rather petty reasons for hating pirates, citing their shanties, hats, and roaring as reasons for their extermination.
She hates pirates for the same reason as endangered animals- they're outdated remnants of the past.
Hartman Hips: Cutlass Liz and the Queen, but especially Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate, necessary because her large fake beard covers almost all evidence of other possible curves. (The occasional side and back shot, such as the scene where Darwin walks the plank, reveals that she's actually curvy all over.)
Harmless Lady Disguise: Pirate Captain and the crew (even Polly!) disguise themselves as Girl Guides when they first arrive in London, due to Victoria's hatred of pirates.
The Pirate Captain tries to refuse Darwin joining the crew due to his "nose being too big for his face." Darwin almost got refused his position on his historic expedition because the captain, a firm believer in physiognomy, thought Darwin's nose meant he was lazy.
Idiot Ball: If the Pirate Captain picked up any more of them, the story would plummet straight into Downer Ending territory.
Idiot Hero: The Pirate Captain. Oh god, the Pirate Captain.
I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: The island where all the pirates meet up for the contest is named Blood Island. Not because of a history of bloodshed, but because it's "exactly the same shape as a bit of blood".
It's All My Fault: Darwin says this word-for-word when he encounters the Pirate Captain after learning Victoria's true plan for Polly.
Jabba Table Manners: Queen Victoria talks with her mouth full while discussing plans with Admiral Collingwood.
The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: The Pirate Captain's crew consistently fails to board a ship worth stealing from, though not for lack of trying. It's implied that they have engaged in actual piracy in the past, though; one of them says his favorite bit about being a pirate is the looting. (Plus, they've been at this for over twenty years; they must have been doing something to stay in the black.) In the end they do manage to steal one very valuable thing — Polly, who the captain had sold to Queen Victoria for all the gold in London Tower — and even sink a ship in the process.
Pragmatic Adaption: In a collection of the first two books, released around the movie's theatrical showings, the Pirate Captain himself writes a foreword where he acknowledges the difficulty in adapting a literary work to a visual medium, and incidentally he'd prefer a pet dodo to the stupid parrot he has in the books.
Scenery Porn: Aardman certainly went all out on detailed backgrounds and sets.
Sea Dog Beard: Several of the pirates. The Pirate Captain's is frequently drawn attention to, with the word "luxuriant" being used repeatedly.
Self Plagiarism: Or maybe Mythology Gag or Shout-Out—but the climactic scene of this film bears a surprising resemblance to Aardman's previous effort, Chicken Run. In both, someone is trying to get away via an ungainly flying device (the bird machine in the first one vs. a blimp in this film). In both, someone else is trying to catch them via climbing up a long string or rope (Christmas tree lights in the first, a rope in the second). In both, the person trying to fly away attempts to cut the string/rope as the other person climbs. The main difference is that in this film, it's the hero (the Pirate Captain) trying to climb up and the villain (Queen Victoria) trying to get away, whereas in Chicken Run the situation was reversed.
Shown Their Work: The meeting place of the Royal Society closely resembles Somerset House, where the group really was based at the time of the film. A subtle example, but quite impressive for a film that indulges in Anachronism Stew.
Silent Snarker: Bobo. Remember, this is the same studio that gave us Gromit. When Darwin is explaining his plan, Mr Bobo holds up a "BUT..." card. When Darwin hushes him, he rolls his eyes and changes it to a "but..."
Sweet on Polly Oliver: The Pirate Captain seemingly tries to invoke this when he asks the Pirate With A Scarf if he's really a woman. Hilariously, he misses the actual Sweet Polly Oliver in his crew.
Symbol Swearing: When The Pirate Captain decides to board the QV1 and save Polly, Mr. Bobo responds by running off and leaving behind a series of cards reading "Are you out of your [Symbol Swearing] mind?!" The Captain reads them out loud as "Are you out of your... oh my!" — and an elephant sounds in the pause after "your", acting as a Sound Effect Bleep.
Tempting Fate: When the Pirate Captain decides that there's a sea monster on their route because there's a drawing of one on the map, Darwin remarks that the drawings are only there for decorations. At the end of the film, the aforementioned sea monster jumps out of the water and swallows the ship... only to spit it out again.
Token Good Teammate: The Pirate With A Scarf is the closest thing this movie has to a truly good character. He's loyal to his friends, never does anything openly evil and although he's a pirate, he would rather go on adventures than plunder ships.
Travel Montage: Three of them; the pirates searching for treasure (which doubles as the opening credits), the pirates and Darwin sailing to London and the Pirate Captain and Darwin chasing the QV1 across Europe. The latter two include the vessel's path being shown on the map as a trail of red dots — intercut with a shot of the vessel in which someone is actually dropping a series of red circular objects off the stern.
Walk the Plank: Darwin almost ends up doing this before he notices what species of bird Polly is.Double subverted when the Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate gets carried away and ends up forcing Darwin off the plank anyway.
What the Hell, Hero?: Zig-zagged when the Pirate Captain catches Darwin stealing Polly. At first he's furious and demands an explanation, but when Darwin confesses that he's trying to win over a girl, the Pirate Captain instantly softens up and is willing to help him. Then he learns that the girl in question is Victoria and reacts as one would expect him to. Ultimately, he forgives Darwin.
You Have Failed Me / You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Victoria pulls a tamer version of this on Darwin. He brings her Polly but also leads the Pirate Captain to her by accident, and she repays the favor by rejecting his affections and dropping him down a garbage chute.