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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Pirates! Band of Misfits

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Pirate Captain, voiced by Hugh Grant, is seen in the animated movie "The Pirates! Band of Misfits."
We have it on the authority of Victorian librettist W.S. Gilbert that "it is, it is a glorious thing/to be a pirate king." If the rollicking 3-D animated comedy "The Pirates! Band of Misfits" (Columbia) is to be believed, being the captain of even a motley shipload of 19th-century buccaneers isn't such a bad lot either.

That's the role fate has assigned to the luxuriantly bearded central character in this historical fantasy, voiced by Hugh Grant.

Despite many failed attempts to do so, this warmhearted and enthusiastic—but not overly successful—plunderer still dreams of winning the accolade "Pirate of the Year." His adventures in pursuit of that title eventually bring him into contact with humorously revisionist versions of both Charles Darwin (voice of David Tennant) and Queen Victoria (voice of Imelda Staunton). The former is shown to be shifty, the latter a shrew.

Fleeting elements of Gideon Defoe's script—adapted from his book "The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists"—preclude recommendation for all. The dialogue, for instance, lapses into a bit of low-level vulgarity. And, in addition to a smattering of cartoonish violence and some perilous situations, the proceedings also find one character referring to a "scantily clad" woman and another jokingly admonishing his peers to "lock up your daughters."

One of the Pirate Captain's numerous misadventures brings him briefly onboard a vessel populated by naturists, though a variety of strategically placed objects prevent us, of course, from glimpsing anything inappropriate. And one of his merry cohorts, whom he dimly characterizes as "surprisingly curvaceous," turns out to be a woman disguised as a man.

Still, as helmed by director Peter Lord, this swashbuckling saga does teach viewers a good lesson about placing loyalty to friends above worldly ambition. Freighted with that respectable moral, it should make smooth sailing for teens and their seniors.

The film contains very mild action violence, a brief scene involving obscured nudity, a couple of crass terms and a few vaguely sexual references. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II—adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG—parental guidance suggested.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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Joan of Arc: 
		<p>Burned at the stake as a heretic after a politically-motivated trial, Joan was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1920.</p>
		<p>Born of a fairly well-to-do peasant couple in Domremy-Greux (southeast of Paris), Joan was only 12 when she experienced a vision and heard voices that she later identified as Sts. Michael the Archangel, Catherine of Alexandria, and Margaret of Antioch.</p>
		<p>During the Hundred Years War, she led French troops against the English and recaptured the cities of Orléans and Troyes. This enabled Charles VII to be crowned as king in Reims in 1429. Captured near Compiegne the following year, she was sold to the English and placed on trial for heresy and witchcraft. Professors at the University of Paris supported Bishop Pierre Cauchon of Beauvis, the judge at her trial; Cardinal Henry Beaufort of Winchester, England, participated in the questioning of Joan in prison. In the end, she was condemned for wearing men's clothes. The English resented France's military success–to which Joan contributed. </p>
		<p>On this day in 1431, she was burned at the stake in Rouen, and her ashes were scattered in the Seine River. A second Church trial 25 years later nullified the earlier verdict, which was reached under political pressure.</p>
		<p>Remembered by most people for her military exploits, Joan had a great love for the sacraments, which strengthened her compassion toward the poor. Popular devotion to her increased greatly in 19th-century France and later among French soldiers during World War I. Theologian George Tavard writes that her life "offers a perfect example of the conjunction of contemplation and action" because her spiritual insight is that there should be a "unity of heaven and earth."</p>
		<p>Joan of Arc has been the subject of many books, plays, operas, and movies. </p>
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