It is always appreciated when kids' movies make an effort to keep the adults entertained. Though The Pirates! Band of Misfits doesn't go to the same lengths of adult humour as Shrek, there are enough sly comments, well within the "G" rating, to ensure parents are amused.
The film follows the Pirate Captain as he tries to win Pirate of the Year. A daft leader who has more skill cutting pork at the ship's weekly ham night than he does at looting and pillaging, his chances of winning are slim. That is until they encounter Charles Darwin, a lonely scientist has not yet discovered the link between himself and his monkey butler Bobo.
He informs the Pirate Captain that his beloved parrot Polly is actually the last remaining dodo and is worth a fortune. The pirates make their way to London to present Polly to society, encountering a number of misadventures on their way.
A huge strength of the film is the re-creation of Victorian England with a steampunk vibe, featuring cameos of some of the most well-known historic and literary figures. Queen Victoria becomes a slightly crazy, murderous leader with a penchant for rare animals and Jane Austen a bitchy social commentator.
While a lot of these references will go over little ones' heads, they will be entertained by the fast-moving action and the silly humour which has the pirates cross dressing to avoid suspicion. Bobo the "manpanzee" is one to watch for his hilarious flash cards. The Pirates is Grant's first attempt at voicing an animated character and he does so adequately.
As a general rule, I dislike Grant for playing the same befuddled Englishman in every film. Perhaps it is because you can't see his face, or that you can't really recognise his voice as the Pirate Captain, but he actually does a decent job making you feel sorry for the, well, befuddled English pirate. While the plot is sound, there are a few flaws to this shanty on the high seas.