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File:The-pirates-in-an-adventure-with-scientists-movie-poster-550x411 7926.jpg


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 is being 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:

  • Achievements in Ignorance: "It's only impossible if you stop to think about it."
  • Acrofatic: Queen Victoria in the climactic fight scene.
    • Who, like another woman trying to present a matronly image, isn't really that big without her skirt.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Darwin and Mr. Bobo, for the first half of the film.
  • Adipose Rex: Queen Victoria.
  • Adorkable: The Albino Pirate.
  • Advertised Extra: Though Cutlass Liz is featured prominently in trailers and posters, she only appears for a few minutes.
  • Affably Evil: These are the most friendly, loveable terrors of the high seas you will ever meet.
  • 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. 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.
  • All-Star Cast: Hmm, lessee here... Hugh Grant, David Tennant, Martin Freeman, Jeremy Piven, Salma Hayek, Lenny Henry, Brendan Gleeson, and last but not least, Brian Blessed!
  • All There in the Script: The Pirate Who Likes Sunsets and Kittens is named only in the credits.
  • Americanitis: At least two characters got overdubbed by American actors for the US release, not to mention some risque jokes getting cut.
  • 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. 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.
    • And this is putting aside the fact that 17th century style pirates are still hanging around in the 19th century.
    • Many, many science issues in the film, including the (albeit limited) public use of electricity in 1837.
    • Some usage of modern linguistics in Victorian times, such as the 'crew in the street sense, yo' line in the trailer.
    • It should be noted that all of these examples use the Rule of Funny excuse.
  • Anti-Hero: The eponymous pirates are a Type I.
  • 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.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Queen Victoria is no pushover when it comes to a throw-down knife fight.
  • Badass Beard: The Pirate Captain.
  • Bastard Girlfriend: Cutlass Liz can barely even walk across a room without stabbing someone. Apparently, this just makes her even more attractive.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Cutlass Liz.
  • Berserk Button: Don't mention pirates around Her Majesty. Just don't.
  • Big Bad: Queen Victoria.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Mr. Bobo and the crew coming to the Pirate Captain's aid in the climax.
  • Big Eater: Queen Victoria.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Brick Joke: Several:
    • "We could have made that with a good wind behind us, except there's this great big sea monster in the way".
    • The best thing about the airship being that it allows its users to look down women's tops.
    • 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?
  • Buffy-Speak: "Fire those long things that go bang!"
  • Butt Monkey: Oh, Darwin...
    • Don't forget just about every rower trying to get into harbour at the same time as the pirates.
    • 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.
  • Captain Obvious: After changing into their Paper Thin Disguises (both of them), the pirates feel the need to remind Darwin that it's really them.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: 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!"
  • Celebrity Paradox: One joke involves a mention of Brian Blessed, who voices The Pirate King.
  • 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: The Pirate Captain.
    • Most of the pirates seem to qualify, but especially the Albino Pirate.
    • According to Peter Lord, everyone in the film is this to some extent.
  • The Chew Toy: Darwin. After a few minutes you will want to see bad things happen to him, and the movie delivers.
  • Conspicuous CG: The sea monster sticks out like a sore thumb, despite all the CG water and enviroments.
  • Cool Boat: The Pirate Ship and the QV1.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: A lot of it.
  • 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."
  • Cultural Cringe: The reason behind the Executive Meddling. For the American release, they changed the title so it didn't have the word "scientists" in it, dubbed over Albino Pirate's lines with an actor known by American audiences, replaced one other announcer character with Al Roker, and took out any jokes that were deemed too inappropriate.
  • The Dog Bites Back:
    • A literal example of this trope; Polly finally escapes from Victoria by biting 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.
  • 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. It's by far the studio's largest and most technologically complex film to date.
  • 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).
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Charles Darwin's pet monkey, Bobo.
  • Evil Albino: Averted. Apart from his skin condition, the Albino Pirate is a normal guy (for a pirate, anyway) and probably one of the more good-natured pirates on the crew.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Queen Victoria throws a lot of hissy fits.
  • Executive Meddling: 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.
  • 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.
  • Fat Bastard: Queen Victoria.
  • Five-Man Band
  • 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.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: It wouldn't be an Aardman film without this trope.
  • Frying Pan of Doom: Victoria wields one in the final battle.
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: The Captain does this to Darwin.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Again, Aardman.
  • Girls with Moustaches: The Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate.
  • 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.
  • Groin Attack: When the Captain stabs the ceiling. Whoops.
  • The Gump: 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?

  • Hammerspace:
    • The source of Mr. Bobo's seemingly endless amount of notecards.
    • The Pirate Captain's luxuriant beard is revealed to be Hammerspace Hair.
  • 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 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.
  • 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?"
  • Heroic Albino: The Albino Pirate, whilst not a technical 'hero', is definitely a positive and upbeat character.
  • Hero's Muse: Victoria is this to Darwin. Until he finds that pamphlet.
  • Historical Domain Character: Queen Victoria and Charles Darwin.
    • With assorted other cameo appearances by real-life people, such as Joseph Merrick and Jane Austen.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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 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.
  • 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?

Victoria: No. (clobbers him with a frying pan)

  • Large Ham: The Pirate Captain and Victoria, when her Berserk Button is pressed. Also, Brian Blessed will be appearing as the Pirate King.
    • Brian 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.
  • 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.
  • Living MacGuffin: Polly.
  • Love Makes You Dumb/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.
  • Market-Based Title: The UK title is The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists, while the title everywhere else is The Pirates! Band of Misfits.
  • Missing Trailer Scene: The leper boat is a subversion. While the offending word is redubbed, the footage itself remains.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Cutlass Liz.
  • 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: There's a nudist ship in the movie.
  • 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 formerly 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.
  • 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.
    • 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...
  • Only Sane Man: The Pirate With A Scarf and Mr. Bobo.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Twice. When they arrive in London, the pirates disguise themselves first as Girl Guides, then as scientists.
    • Up to Eleven: 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.
  • Parental Bonus: It's an Aardman film.
  • 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 is trying really hard to avert this, but just keeps failing so miserably that he remains firmly in this category. The crew, incidentally, are quite happy to be this, and it's the Captain who keeps pushing them into robbing and plundering (or at least trying to.) Admittedly, this is sort of required for a kids' movie that's based on pirates being the protagonists.
  • 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: Guess who.
  • Record Needle Scratch: When the Pirate of the Year Award presentation is interrupted.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Polly.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Victoria takes her crusade against pirates very seriously.
  • Rule of Funny
  • 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 Porn: Aardman certainly went all out on detailed backgrounds and sets.
  • Seadog Beard: Several of the pirates. The Pirate Captain's is frequently drawn attention to, with the word "luxuriant" being used repeatedly.
  • Shout-Out: Plenty of the usual Aardman sight gags, like one of the Pirates having a Blue Peter badge.
    • There was also a reference to Asterix at the beginning. Queen Victoria asked about Gauls, albeit she had better results than Julius Caesar on that front. However, the pirates became reason for her control of the world be almost complete.
    • The Pirate King resembles Elvis Presley.
  • 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..."
  • 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.
    • Arguably, this is justified, since there are people who... rather strongly dislike Darwin and his theories. And that's all we'll say.
  • Spicy Latina: Cutlass Liz, voiced by Salma Hayek.
  • Sky Pirate: The Pirate Captain is briefly one when he uses the airship.
  • Steampunk: The airship, the QV1 and Victoria's mechanical hoop skirt.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: The QV1 in the climax.
  • Sue Donym: The Pirate Captain's scientist alias is The Scientist Captain.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: The Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate.
    • The Pirate Captain briefly seems to think (or hope) the Pirate With A Scarf is one, but he's mistaken.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Tar and Feathers: Happens to Darwin at one point.
  • Team Pet: Polly.

 Albino Pirate: She's like an auntie! With a beak...

  • Technology Marches On: Aardman previously switched Flushed Away to an All CGI Cartoon due to the amount of water required. Come the announcement of a stop-motion film, and there's a lot of water to be seen.
  • 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.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Ham.
  • Trailer Spoof: One TV spot parodies The Hunger Games, and another parodies the trailer for the 3D re-release of Titanic. 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.
  • True Companions: The Pirate Captain and his crew members.
  • The Un-Reveal: We don't see what the Suprisingly Curvaceous Pirate looks like without her beard. The one time she's seen without it, her face is blocked by bubbles
  • Victorian London
  • Villain Protagonist: Well, obviously. This is, after all, a movie starring pirates.
  • The Voiceless: Bobo, who speaks with index cards.
  • Walk the Plank: Darwin almost ends up doing this before he notices what species of bird Polly is.
    • Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate gets carried away and ends up forcing Darwin off of 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.
  • 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.
  • Willing Suspension of Disbelief: This movie isn't supposed to be realistic. Or make sense.
  • World of Ham: It's got Brian Blessed in the cast! Hugh Grant also turns in a deliciously hammy performance as The Pirate Captain. And he sure likes his ham.
  • You Need to Get Laid: Darwin's opinion of himself.
  • Young Future Famous People: Darwin. Victoria might also qualify.

Notes

  1. Who actually exist in 2012, to many people's surprise
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