Here is Robert Pattinson looking simultaneously suave and bad ass in the teaser trailer for ‘Cosmopolis’, a film by Canada’s best achievement David Cronenberg.
When going to see The Pirates! An Adventure with Scientists, the latest stop motion feature from the homegrown studio Aardman Animation, I expected brilliant animation, pop culture references, awful pirate-y puns and much more besides. Although The Pirates may do less heart string pulling than the famed Wallace and Gromit shorts, it is undeniably Aardman’s most hilarious foray onto the big screen yet, complete with an irreplaceable British sense of humour.
An adaptation of Gideon Coe’s book, the film follows the aptly named Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant) in his quest for the prestigious ‘Pirate of the Year’ award. Along the way he meets a scrawny scientist named Charles Darwin (David Tennant), graces the presence of arch nemesis to pirates everywhere Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton) whilst having to handle his crew: the faithful Number Two (Martin Freeman), the Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate (Ashley Jensen), states-the-obvious Pirate with Gout (Brendan Gleeson) and Peg Leg Hastings (Lenny Henry). If those names failed to even raise an eyebrow then there’s something wrong with you.
With regards to the humour, I’m reminded of something Jerry Zucker once said about the making of Airplane!, that it was like trying to cram as many toys in a closet and then closing the door without them all falling out. From the opening shot, Aardman fervently swings this gag door open as the camera pans backwards to reveal the ‘London 1837’ sign is actually being held by a cleaner desperate to get into shot. Fans of Monty Python, absurdism and ‘anti-jokes’ will appreciate the intelligent humour of the film, not to say that it can’t be enjoyed by audiences of any age or indeed fans of Aardmans previous works. I’m already eagerly anticipating the Blu Ray release so I can pause and take in subtle jokes like bananas having Tesco labels on them, and a million other gags I must’ve missed. The soundtrack too – an eclectic mix of britpop, punk, reggae – help elevate the Pirates from a standard nautical parody to something that is profoundly charming and quintessentially British.
Maybe it’s the back-to-back Kubrick references, or the Blue Peter badge on one of the crew’s hats, or Brian Blessed’s pirate Elvis, or the monkey butler, or The Elephant Man sharing a pint with Jane Austen that makes The Pirates! such an infectiously feel good comedy. In fact, it’s the result of some of the hardest working and most thoughtful filmmakers in Britain.