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Western Animation / The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists

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"It's only impossible if you stop to think about it!"

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! (also called The Pirates! Band of Misfits outside of the UK) is a Claymation film directed by Peter Lord and created by Sony Pictures Animation and Aardman Animations, their first stop-motion feature since The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, based on the pirate stories of Gideon Defoe.

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 Sunsets and Kittens") 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:

  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: Or in this case, digital 3D effects in a live-action 3D cartoon. The technology required to add so much digital water and other computerized effects was the reason this film spent so much time in Development Hell.
  • Accordion to Most Sailors: One of the pirates is simply known as "The Pirate with an Accordion".
  • The Ace: Black Bellamy, much to the Pirate Captain's frustration.
  • Achievements in Ignorance: See the page quote above.
  • 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.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In the book, Darwin and Mr. Bobo are the Pirate Captain's allies throughout the story. In the film, Darwin is a False Friend who manipulates the Captain in order to steal Polly, with Mr. Bobo as his accomplice. They both undergo a Heel–Face Turn in the third act, however.
  • Adipose Rex: Queen Victoria.
    • Though it turns out most of it is her dress.
  • Advertised Extra:
    • Though Black Bellamy and Cutlass Liz are featured prominently in trailers and posters, they only appear for two scenes. This is actually a continuation of a joke set up in the books, where both are supposedly prominent figures in the Captain's life and yet do next to nothing of importance in the books.
    • Rule of Sexy applies to the latter.
  • Affably Evil: These are the most friendly, lovable terrors of the high seas you will ever meet.
  • Affectionate Nickname: The Pirate Captain occasionally refers to Darwin as "Chuck."
  • Age Lift: The film depicts Queen Victoria as an old Fat Bastard despite taking place in 1837 when she would have been 18 or 19 years old and quite thin. She wouldn't take on her familiar size until a few decades later.
  • All Love Is Unrequited:
    • 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. While Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate's plotline is left unresolved, Darwin gets over Victoria by the end after realizing just how evil she actually is.
    • 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.
  • All the Other Reindeer: The Pirate Captain is looked on with contempt by the other pirates, and is such a failure that the price on his head is "12 doubloons and a free pen".
  • All There in the Script: The Pirate Who Likes Sunsets and Kittens is named only in the credits.
  • Also sprach Zarathustra: On an accordion and conga drums, no less! One of the musicians is a monkey, mind you!
  • Always Someone Better: The other three Pirates who have better chances of winning the award than the Pirate Captain.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • 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; she was crowned that year. 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.
    • Apparently, people in 1837 are aware of who BRIAN BLESSED is.note 
    • And this is putting aside the fact that 17th century style pirates are still hanging around in the 19th century.
      • Though this is actually Queen Victoria's reason for hating pirates—they're out of date and need to go.
    • While the Beagle was sailing in 1837, Charles Darwin wasn't on it at the time. He had stopped sailing with it in 1836, and spent 1837 in England compiling his discoveries for publication.
    • Many, many science issues in the film, including the (albeit limited) public use of electricity in 1837 and a prototype atomic bomb.
    • The pirates' first disguises was as a group of Girl Guides. However, the scouting movement didn't begin until 1907.
    • Some usage of modern linguistics in Victorian times, such as the 'crew in the street sense, yo' line.
    • A guard refers to Queen Victoria as Empress Of India, but Queen Victoria would not be empress until 1876.
    • One of the rulers in the dining club looks like Napoleon, who would have been dead by then, although it may be his son Napoleon II or his nephew Napoleon III who would have the same appearance due to sharing the same name. Even then Napoleon II died in 1832 while Napoleon III wouldn't be emperor until the 1850s.
    • A conversation between two guards discusses Dracula and Frankenstein's Monster. Frankenstein existed in 1837, but Dracula wouldn't be written for another sixty years.
    • It should be noted that all of these examples use the Rule of Funny excuse.
  • Animals Not to Scale: Type 2. Real dodo birds were believed to have been about thirty to forty pounds in weight and over three feet tall, much too large to fit on a person's shoulder like a parrot.
  • Arc Words: Or rather, Arc Question. "What's the best thing about being a pirate?"
  • Art Shift: The opening credits and each Travel Montage are done in stylized CG across a Here There Be Dragons-style sea map, with all the peril that entails.
  • As Himself: Mr. Bobo is credited as this.
  • Aside Glance: Done by Victoria when the Pirate Captain tries and fails to conceal his identity from her with a fake accent.
  • Author Avatar: The Pirate Captain in the books is a blatant wish fulfillment fantasy on the author's part.
  • Author Vocabulary Calendar: Played with in the books, where The Pirate Captain constantly refers to his "luxuriant beard". He also, more oddly, refers often to his "stentorian nose", even though "stentorian" is a tone of voice.
  • Ax-Crazy: Queen Victoria. And it shows during the climax.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Mister Bobo.
  • Been There, Shaped History: The Pirate Captain may have inadvertently inspired Darwin to study evolution. Take this exchange, for example;
    Pirate Captain: We didn't evolve from slugs just to sit around drinking our own sweat, now did we?
    Darwin: What was that about slugs?
    • It can also be inferred from one of the travel montages that the crew are responsible for the panama canal.
  • Berserk Button: Don't mention pirates around Her Majesty. Just don't.
  • Big Bad: Queen Victoria. Not only does she promise a gruesome death to any pirate (even an amateur crew like the cast) who dares to enter London, she is also part of a secret society that eats endangered animals.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: Queen Victoria. Darwin certainly seems to think so.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Mr. Bobo and the crew coming to the Pirate Captain's aid in the climax.
  • Big Eater: Queen Victoria. It gets worse when it's revealed she's part of a secret dining society along with dozens of other world leaders. They gather together on her flagship, the QVI, to eat the rarest and most endangered animals.
  • Big Entrance:
    • 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-and-Gray Morality: On one hand, we have the murdering, looting pirates that want nothing but fame in the pirate world, on the other we have the Queen of England, who is definitely not shown in a sympathetic light.
  • Black Comedy: Just by the trailers there seems to be a lot of it.
    "This is a leper boat!" *arm falls off* "See?"
    • Somehow even funnier in the german dub:
    "Gold? I'd give my arm for gold!" *arm falls off* Beat "My other arm!"
  • 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 by American actor Anton Yelchin, the Pirate Who Likes Sunsets and Kittens was redubbed by Al Roker, and any jokes that were deemed too inappropriate were removed entirely.note 
  • Brainy Brunette: The Pirate With A Scarf.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Inverted with The Pirate King after Black Bellamy's revelation of the Captain's pardoning:
  • Break the Haughty: Darwin believing he's smarter than the pirates doesn't exactly work out for him.
  • Brick Joke: Several:
    • "We could have made that with a good wind behind us, except for that dirty great sea monster in the way".
    • 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 recapping his exploits to Jane Austen, the Pirate Captain recounts an anecdote that indicates a shark could beat a Dracula, suggesting she turn it into a book. Later, during the raid on the Q.V.1, a pair of guards discuss Austen’s new book, Frankenstein vs. the Jellyfish.
    • 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.
  • Buffy Speak: "Fire those long things that go bang!"
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Oh, Darwin...
    • The old man in the rowboat who always seems to be in any harbour the pirates happen to drop anchor in.
    • Surprisingly not the actual monkey. He does get a bathtub dropped on him at one point, though.
  • The Caligula: Victoria.
  • Call-Forward:
    • At the scientific conference, Darwin gets caught in an explosion of vinegar and baking soda, which makes him look like he has his trademark beard.
    • Similarly, the Pirate Captain tells Darwin to grow a beard.
  • The Cameo: The treasure Victoria offers the Pirate Captain includes a gold statue of Wallace.
  • Captain Obvious: After changing into their Paper Thin Disguises (both of them), the pirates feel the need to remind Darwin that it's them.
  • Card-Carrying Villain:
    • The pirates in the movie are so proud of being pirates they hold a "Pirate of the Year" award, and pirates who receive pardon for their crimes are disqualified for the prize and banned from Bloody Island. When Queen Victoria revokes Pirate Captain's pardon and sets the reward for his capture to be higher than the reward for any other pirate on the world, Pirate Captain likes it.
    • On the other side of things, Victoria's royal crest says "I Hate Pirates!"
  • Celebrity Paradox: One joke involves a mention of BRIAN BLESSED, who voices The Pirate King.
  • The Centerpiece Spectacular: The bathtub chase.
  • Chain of People: Formed by the crew to rescue the Captain near the end.
  • Changing Clothes Is a Free Action: On two separate occasions, Darwin (and the camera) look away from the crew for a few seconds, only for them to all be wearing matching disguises when he looks back.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Vinegar and baking soda.
    • The airship.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: According to Peter Lord, everyone in the film is this to some extent. The Pirate Captain and the Albino Pirate stand out from the crowd, though.
  • The Chew Toy: Darwin. After a few minutes you will want to see bad things happen to him, and the film delivers.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: A lot of it.
  • Comforting Comforter: The Pirate with a Scarf tucks the Pirate Captain in.
  • Cool Boat: The Pirate Ship and the QV1.
  • Cowardly Lion: Mr. Bobo flees when the Pirate Captain decides to try and save Polly, but later rows across the sea to gather The Cavalry.
  • Creative Closing Credits: Featuring a "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue and a montage of the background jokes from the film.
  • Cruella to Animals: Queen Victoria.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: "There's a sea monster in the way."
  • Dance Party Ending: Downplayed, but the Creative Closing Credits are interspersed with brief scenes of various minor characters getting their groove on to "Alright" by Supergrass.
  • Darkest Hour: After Black Bellamy outs the Captain as a fraud when the Captain is about to accept his long-sought-after reward, The Pirate King confiscated his treasure and equipment while removing his status as a pirate. And after he tells his crew he sold Polly for the treasure, they abandon him. The Captain is left alone and with nothing, and all he can do is go to Darwin's house and at least find Polly...only for her to already be gone.
  • Dark Reprise: "Rule Britannia," which triumphantly opens the film and returns in an ominous form whenever Victoria's up to no good.
  • Deuteragonist: Darwin.
  • Diegetic Visual Effects: We see a red dotted line on the map that's supposedly just there to show where the pirates have travelled... only for the scene to shift into reality and we find out that the albino pirate is creating the dotted line by throwing red items out the back.
  • The Dog Bites Back:
    • A literal example of this trope; Polly finally escapes from Victoria by pecking her in the eye.
    • Darwin is the one who opens the shaft that Victoria gets knocked down in the climax.
  • Dramatis Personae: Done in the first part of the closing credits.
  • Dual Wielding: Victoria can fight with two katanas.
  • The Dulcinea Effect: Darwin's crush on Victoria.
  • 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.
  • Epic Fail: Whenever the Pirate Captain boards a ship to demand gold. Special mention goes to the part where he boards a ghost ship and ends up falling through the ghost deck.
  • Epic Movie: By Aardman's standards. At the time, it was the studio's largest and most technologically complex film they'd ever made.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • "I! HATE! PIRATES!"
    • 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).
  • Evil Is Hammy: Queen Victoria throws a lot of hissy fits.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The title of every book in the series, which include "The Pirates! In An Adventure With Communists", "The Pirates! In An Adventure With Romance!", and "The Pirates! In An Adventure With Ahab".
  • Excited Title! Two-Part Episode Name!: Played straight in most markets, averted in North America when the film was released as The Pirates! Band of Misfits, without the second exclamation point.
  • 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.
  • Eye Scream: Polly biting Victoria.
  • Faint in Shock: One lady in the audience passes out in shock when she sees that the pirates and scientists have found a living dodo. In fact, one of the settings on the applause meter is "Ladies Fainting".
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: The Pirate Captain in the books, where he is feared and admired by more or less everybody as the greatest pirate who ever lived despite being ridiculously incompetent. In the movie, he's seen as a loser by everyone outside of his crew.
  • Fat Bitch: Queen Victoria.
  • A Father to His Men: The Pirate Captain.
  • Fetishized Abuser: Cutlass Liz can barely even walk across a room without stabbing someone. Apparently, this just makes her even more attractive.
  • A Foggy Day in London Town: The pirate ship passes into a thick wall of fog when it sails into London.
  • Fool for Love: Darwin, who calls himself this after realizing that Victoria manipulated him into bringing her Polly.
  • For the Evulz:
    • 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.
  • Franchise Zombie: invoked The book series is a parody of this. The first book is supposed to take place long after the series has released hundreds of books and had three spin off series.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: It wouldn't be an Aardman film without this trope.
  • Friendly Pirate: The Pirate Captain, his mates, and all of the pirates are glory-seeking thieves, who engage in Poke the Poodle piracy.
  • Friend-or-Idol Decision: Queen Victoria offers the Captain a choice between selling Polly in return for a large sum of treasure, which would all but ensure he wins the pirate of the year award, or keeping her and the respect of his crew. After choosing the former, he's outed as a fraud and loses everything.
  • Frying Pan of Doom: Victoria wields one in the final battle.
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: The Captain does this to Darwin.
  • Girls with Moustaches: The Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate wears a fake one.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Victoria, portrayed as a bloodthirsty supervillainess with a penchant for dining on very rare animals.
  • Grand Romantic Gesture: Darwin thinks that getting Victoria a dodo will be seen as this. He's wrong.
  • Gray Rain of Depression: After the Pirate Captain is expelled from the pirating community.
    • He has one before that when he has failed to find any gold during his eight attempted raids as he is ready to just give up. When Number Two gets him out of depression, the weather is instantly better again.
  • Groin Attack: When the Captain stabs the ceiling. Whoops.
  • Hammerspace:
    • The source of Mr. Bobo's seemingly endless amount of notecards.
    • The Pirate Captain's luxuriant beard is revealed to be Hammerspace Hair.
  • 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.
  • 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.)
  • Heel–Face Turn: Darwin and Mr. Bobo.
  • Heel Realization: Darwin finding the pamphlet about Victoria's rare animal eating society. His face practically screams "My God, What Have I Done?".
  • The Hero: The Pirate Captain.
  • Hero's Muse: Victoria is this to Darwin. Until he finds that pamphlet.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: After Darwin and Mr. Bobo steal Polly after faking the Pirate Captain out with a real gun and run off, the Captain takes a vicar’s bike and chases after them with it.
  • Historical Domain Character:
    • Queen Victoria and Charles Darwin are main characters.
    • With assorted other cameo appearances by real-life people, such as Joseph Merrick and Jane Austen, as well as Admiral Collingwood in the beginning of the movie.
    • Interestingly, there exists a real Black Bellamy
  • Historical In-Joke:
    • 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.
    • The captain also suggests that Darwin grow a beard to help even out his face. Darwin took the advice to heart evidently. (Before that of course, Charles gets a temporary beard of Vinegar-Baking Soda foam.)
  • Historical Villain Downgrade: The "villain" part is debatable, but Charles Darwin is presented in the movie as a bumbling ineffectual Butt-Monkey who is horrified at the idea of a secret society who eat rare animals. As has been noted elsewhere on the page, in real life...not so much.
    • Also the pirates (all of them, not just the main crew) are pretty much the relatively tame childhood fantasy version of pirates with their more unsavoury historical aspects rarely being mentioned or dwelt on - even Cutless Liz's penchant for stabbing people doesn't seem that bad considering at least one of her victims recovers by the end.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Despite many atrocities across the British Empire including in India and Ireland during her reign, Queen Victoria herself was not a vicious, bloodthirsty psychopath.
    • She also wasn't a member of a society that ate rare animals. Darwin was, though.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: The Pirate with a Scarf seems quite a bit smarter than the Pirate Captain. The same goes for Mr. Bobo and Darwin.
  • Hypocrite: Queen Victoria claims that the main reason she hates pirates so much is how archaic and outdated they are, despite royalty and monarchs arguably being even more archaic.
  • I Am Big Boned: Before Polly is recognised as a dodo, the Pirate Captain gets mocked for having such a fat parrot. He claims that she is just big boned.
  • "I Can't Look!" Gesture: When don't see him cover his eyes, but the Pirate with a Scarf looks up from his hands when Queen Victoria stops the executioner from beheading the Pirate Captain.
  • I Choose to Stay: Mr. Bobo joins the pirate crew in the end.
  • 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 shape of some blood".
  • I Just Want to Be Special: The Pirate Captain's biggest motivation — and Fatal Flaw.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: The Pirate With A Scarf bears a striking resemblance to Martin Freeman.
  • 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 Jeeves: Mr. Bobo.
  • Jolly Roger: The Pirate Captain orders his crew to raise the Jolly Roger flag. One pirate asks to use the standard one and the other asks for an extra gruesome one with popping eyes.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Victoria wields two of them during a fight scene. Probably because she thinks they're better than ordinary, pirate-related swords.
  • Keet: The Albino Pirate.
  • Kick the Dog: Victoria rejecting Darwin, especially the second time.
    Victoria: You know, I think...secretly...I've always loved you, Charles.
    Darwin: ...Really?
  • King of Thieves: Or Pirate King, in this case. that one!
  • The Lancer: The Pirate With A Scarf, who is both the Only Sane Man and The Reliable One.
  • Large Ham:
    • The Pirate Captain and Victoria, when her Berserk Button is pressed.
    • BRIAN BLESSED as the Pirate King. Blessed himself says the Pirate King is the most "larger than life" character in the whole story. Boy, was he right.
  • Last of His Kind: Polly is the last dodo in existence. This is a pretty big deal.
  • Leitmotif: "Rule Britannia" is used as Victoria's theme, and it shows up whenever she does. The bigger a threat she is, the darker the music gets. By the climax, it sounds positively demonic.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!:
    • The Pirate Captain pulls off some pretty badass feats in the climax.
    • Specifically, he chases, breaks into and subsequently blows up what is essentially the steampunk equivalent of the Death Star. All to save his pet.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to the book, which is much more mean-spirited and violent. The Pirate Captain is still a highly incompetent pirate, however.
  • Living MacGuffin: Polly.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Darwin's pursuit of Victoria drives him to do some rather unheroic things. He gets better.
  • Loving a Shadow: Darwin loving Victoria.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Victoria.
  • Market-Based Title: The US title is The Pirates! Band of Misfits, while the title everywhere else is The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists. (see Executive Meddling)
  • Mooning: The Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate's tattoo of the Pirate Captain is on her backside, so she shows it off by baring her ass in the quick scene where we see the crew's tattoos of the Pirate Captain.
  • Mistaken For Parrot: Polly is believed by the pirates to be a parrot even though she is really a dodo.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Cutlass Liz is very attractive and gets a lot of attention from the male pirates when she is around.
  • Mythology Gag: In the Plundering Montage, the pirates go to America and get chased by cowboys and Native Americans. This is a nod to a Noodle Incident from the first book.
  • Naked People Are Funny: One of the ships that the Pirate Captain and his crew attempt to plunder in the montage of failures to plunder anything at sea is a ship of naturists. The scene is especially humorous due to the naturists apparently not having a problem with their ship being attacked by a fully-clothed pirate.
    • The Bathtube scene can count as well, since the Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate is naked the whole time (though conveniently covered by foam) and by definition topless from the back. While that part may get forgotten by the audience after a bit, they are quickly reminded at the end when everyone returns to the mansion but her.
      Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate: Um... Can someone bring me a towel?
  • Nerds Are Virgins: Darwin really wants a girlfriend, and scientists are impressed by a hot air balloon having some uses with women.
  • Ninja: Not literally, but Queen Victoria does dual-wield katanas and has some fancy acrobatic moves.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: "No dodos were made extinct in the making of this film."
  • No Endor Holocaust:
    • Don't worry, all of the world's most powerful and ethically questionable leaders and everybody working on the QV1 got to a lifeboat before the ship sank.
    • Similarly, Victoria formally unpardoned the Pirate Captain (as shown by those new wanted posters), so we can be pretty sure that she didn't get eaten by those animals.
  • Non-Action Guy: Darwin.
  • No Flow In Claymation: Neatly averted in a similar fashion to Coraline.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Polly for the Pirate Captain and Mr. Bobo for Darwin.
  • No Name Given: All of the known pirates so far, with the exception of Black Bellamy, Cutlass Liz, and Pegleg Hastings.
  • Noodle Incident: While giving the Pirate Captain a pep talk, the Pirate With A Scarf mentions the crew's adventures with Aztecs, librarians and a pig.
  • Number Two: The Pirate With A Scarf is even called Number Two by the Pirate Captain.
  • Object-Shaped Landmass: Played for Laughs with Blood Island, which is called that not because it's a pirate haven with a long history of violence, but because it's "exactly in the shape of some blood".
  • Odd Friendship: The Pirate Captain and Darwin.
  • Offscreen Villainy:
    • The pirates, so as to retain sympathy, never actually commit any successful crimes on-screen. Unless impersonating scientists is a crime.
      • Stealing a one-of-a-kind exotic animal worth the entire contents of the Tower of London and sinking its owner's ship certainly is. But Queen Victoria deserved it.
    • Given his whopping twelve doubloons-and-a-pen bounty, it's doubtful if he's ever committed any serious crimes.
    • He does say something about using babies as squid bait though...
    • The Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate likes making people walk the plank, especially the bit where the victim falls off, so they must have done it at least once before.
  • Off with His Head!: The Pirate Captain comes within an inch of this when Queen Victoria recognises him for a pirate rather than a scientist and/or girl guide (she even brought a handy executioner).
  • Only Sane Man: The Pirate With A Scarf and Mr. Bobo.
    • The Pirate With A Scarf plays a variation of this in the books. He's still one of the only intelligent and competent characters, but he honestly believes that The Pirate Captain is the incredible pirate he claims to be and trusts him completely.
    • When Number Two does the pep talk, he also says that a true pirate loves stabbing people to which Pirate Captain nods and agrees that he really enjoys that.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise:
    • Twice. When they arrive in London, the pirates disguise themselves first as Girl Guides, then as scientists.
    • When disguised as Girl Guides, even the Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate keeps her beard on.
    • It doesn't exactly take a genius to figure out that the Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate is a Sweet Polly Oliver. Luckily for her, none of her fellow pirates can be called that.
  • Parental Bonus: It's an Aardman film, and therefore loaded with them.
  • Parodied Trope: About half the tropes listed here are spoofed.
  • Pimp Duds: For the Pirate of the Year awards, Pirate Captain dons a hat and coat that are like this, including zebra print lining.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Victoria's dress is not only loaded with frills, it has a mechanical casing under the skirt.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate's shirt has pink and white stripes. The Pirate Captain is a aversion during the award scene where he appears in a fancy pink pirate outfit.
  • A Pirate 400 Years Too Late: A very important plot point, as the root of Queen Victoria's hatred of pirates is because they are an anachronism.
  • Pirate Girl: Cutlass Liz and The Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate.
  • Pirate Parrot: Actually, the last living dodo.
  • 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. Also, since the Pirate King had confiscated The Pirate Captain's gold when he was discharged, one can assume that he got that one back at the end as well.
  • Point That Somewhere Else: Darwin does this with the Pirate Captain's cutlass when they first meet.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: 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.
  • Prim and Proper Bun: Victoria has one, which Darwin finds attractive.
    Darwin: It's the bun, the bun really does it for me.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "I! HATE! PIRATES!" Accompanied by slamming a knife into a table, no less.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: There is a good reason why the movie is renamed The Pirates! Band of Misfits in the USA.
  • Rank Scales with Asskicking: Queen Victoria is no pushover when it comes to a throw-down knife fight.
  • Record Needle Scratch: When the Pirate of the Year Award presentation is interrupted.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Polly is the most adorable dodo you'll ever see.
  • Royal "We": Victoria uses it.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Victoria takes her crusade against pirates very seriously.
  • Rule of Funny: The films is just loaded with silly and impossible stuff.
  • Sad-Times Montage: After The Pirate Captain loses everything, including Polly and his crew. With "I'm Not Crying" by Flight of the Conchords playing, no less!
  • Scenery Censor: The naturist boat makes use of this to hide the naturists' nudity. For example, one female naturist has her body covered with a guitar, while the other has her breasts obscured by a tray with two wine glasses and her nethers covered by a railing.
  • 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. Not to mention that both scenes feature a female villain whose motivation is to eat a bird character. 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.
  • Shaped Like Itself: They call it Blood Island because it's an island shaped like a bit of blood.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Plenty of the usual Aardman sight gags, like one of the Pirates having a Blue Peter badge.
    • The Pirate King resembles Elvis Presley. Sadly, despite the perfect opportunity, he does not also reference Gilbert and Sullivan.
  • 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.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Victoria. Literally as well as figuratively.
  • A Simple Plan: Take Polly to London, show her off to the Royal Society, get some money out of it and use that booty to snag the Pirate of the Year award! What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Darwin gets this treatment in the American trailers; he only appears for three or four shots, is never named and gets almost no lines.
  • Sky Pirate: The Pirate Captain is briefly one when he uses the airship.
  • Sleep Mask: Pirate Captain wears one.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Darwin's introductory voiceover.
  • Spanner in the Works: Darwin's first attempt to steal Polly would have been successful if the Pirate Captain hadn't been dreaming about fighting with Black Bellamy over the Pirate of the Year Award.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": The Pirate Captain.
  • Steampunk: The airship, the QV1 and Victoria's mechanical hoop skirt.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: The QV1 in the climax.
  • Sudden Downer Ending: Subverted. The film ends with the Pirate Captain's ship being swallowed whole by a sea monster, only to be immediately spat out.
  • Sue Donym: The Pirate Captain's scientist alias is The Scientist Captain.
  • Supermodel Strut: Pirate Girl Cutlass Liz swings her hips as she walks, very prominent in her introductory scene where she blows a hole through the wall and then just casually struts into the bar, while all the men gawk at her. There's even a Male Gaze shot of her hips.
  • 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.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: The Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate (her actual name in the credits).
  • 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.
  • Take Our Word for It: The pirates repeatedly mention how proud they are of their shanties. We never get to hear any.
  • Talking with Signs: Mr. Bobo, Charles Darwin's chimpanzee manservant. At one point he holds up a sign saying "BUT...", and when Darwin hushes him, rolls his eyes and holds up a sign saying "But..."
  • Talk Like a Pirate: Averted mostly, although you arrrrgueably could count all the flowery, sea-themed swearings of the Pirate Captain. The one time it's played completely straight, it's Played for Drama.
    Pirate With A Scarf: You can't just say "arrr" at the end of a sentence and think that makes everything alright.
  • Tar and Feathers: Happens to Darwin at one point.
  • Team Pet: Polly.
    Albino Pirate: She's like an auntie! With a beak...
  • 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.
    • Also, with an added serving of Genre Blindness:
      Albino Pirate: This can only end brilliantly!
  • Threat Backfire: Queen Victoria's final threats are little more than massive street cred to Pirate Captain and his crew.
    Queen Victoria: You'll swing for this! Curse you! And after you're done swinging, I'll chop your head off! I'll put it into a cannon and fire it into the sun!
    Pirate with a Scarf: Does that mean he's not pardoned anymore?!
    Queen Victoria: PARDONED?! *accidentally lets go of her ship's deflating balloon, which carries her away* You'll be outlawed across the globe! There'll be a higher price on your head than any pirate before you! The whole world will know your name!
    The entire crew cheers.
  • Throw a Barrel at It: How Victoria is initially defeated.
  • 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.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Ham.
  • Trade Your Passion for Glory: Pirate Captain trades Polly away for a load of treasure Victoria offers.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • The Titanic (1997) Trailer Spoof gives away not only the existence of the QV1, but also its destruction, the Pirate Captain nearly falling onto the propeller and being rescued by his crew.
    • Some behind-the-scenes videos available on YouTube spoil The Reveal of Victoria's plan to eat Polly.
  • Trailer Spoof: One TV spot parodies The Hunger Games, and another parodies the trailer for the 3D re-release of Titanic (1997). Yet another spoofs American Idol.
  • 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.
  • Treasure Room: Victoria has one.
  • True Companions: The Pirate Captain and his crew members.
  • Turn in Your Badge: Pirate Captain has to turn in all of his pirate stuff once it's found out that he was pardoned and therefore is technically no longer a pirate.
  • Unexplained Recovery: During the Pirate of the Year Awards, at one point, we can see Cutlass Liz stab Pegleg Hastings in the back. He's fine during the epilogue, though.
  • Unishment: At the end, a furious Queen Victoria revokes The Pirate Captain's pardon and vows that he'll have the biggest price on his head more than any other pirate on the Seven Seas. Of course, this is actually one of the highest honours he can get as a pirate.
  • The Unreveal: We don't see what the Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate looks like without her beard. The one time she's seen without it, her face is blocked by bubbles.
  • Unwitting Pawn: The Pirate Captain to Darwin, and Darwin to Victoria.
  • Villain Opening Scene: The film starts in London and shows a meeting between Victoria and Admiral Collingwood, during which Victoria is told that pirates are still at large. She subsequently goes into a violent, over-the-top rant about them which transitions into the introduction of the crew.
  • Villain Protagonist: Well, obviously. This is, after all, a movie starring pirates.
  • The Voiceless: Bobo, who speaks with index cards. When dropped through a hole in the ground, his cards even spell out "AHHHHHH" as he falls.
  • 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.
    • The crew also has one when The Pirate Captain sold Polly for Victorias gold. The crew never really cared about the award and left when they found out that their beloved dodo is gone. Even Number Two leaves him behind with disappointment in his face and voice.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue:
    • Darwin returns to the Galapagos Islands and successfully woos a local girl.
    • Mr. Bobo joins The Pirate Captain's crew.
    • The Pirate Captain becomes the most wanted pirate of them all, and his crew presents him with a makeshift Pirate of the Year award.
    • Queen Victoria is cornered by the rare animals she was planning to eat, some of which look very hungry.
    • Black Bellamy's Pirate of the Year Award is revoked by The Pirate King, though it's not clear why.
      • It's implied that Black Bellamy was 2nd behind the Pirate Captain, so when the Pirate Captain was disqualified, Bellamy got the award. Now that the Captain's pardon has been revoked by the Queen and he's the most wanted pirate on Blood Island, the award is once again rightfully his. Alternatively, the Pirate King just really doesn't approve of snitching...
  • Willing Suspension of Disbelief: This movie isn't supposed to be realistic. Or make sense.
  • World of Ham:
  • 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.
  • Young Future Famous People: Darwin.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): The Pirates Band Of Misfits


"I'm Not Crying"

After his crew desserts him, the Pirate Captain tries to make it on his own, with despressing results.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / SadTimesMontage

Media sources: