2012 Film Challenge #29 - The Pirates In An Adventure With Scientists
What's more exciting: The prospect of a new Pixar film, or the prospect of a new Aardman film?
Of course, there's no real answer to the unanswerable. So long as the Pixar film in question doesn't star a cast of anthropomorphic cars*, you can be sure that their lush efforts will be funny, heartwarming, enthralling and, should the protagonist be a robot or an octogenarian, utterly soul-destroying.
Aardman films, on the other hand, are a guaranteed hoot. They're silly, anarchic and very, very British. And, with the exception of Flushed Away, they generally offer rare big-screen outings for a very charming form of hand-crafted animation.
Choosing between Pixar and Aardman, then, is like choosing between Lou Reed and John Cale – they're both insanely brilliant as to make us consider that there really must exist genius and beauty in the world.
Anyway, who said we had to choose?
Yesterday was Aardman's day, as we went to see The Pirates In An Adventure With Scientists.
I'm always keen to find a single entity which serves to sum up something bigger. Is that a synechedoche? I don't want to describe it as such with anything approaching confidence in case I'm wrong. But I think I'm right.
Anyway, you know how, for the sake of pacing, it's always necessary that a story arc must take a turn for the hopeless as it enters its final act?
When Pirates... reached that stage, as usual the heavens opened and the music specifically designed to tug the heart-strings faded-in.
Only, this time the music sounded strangely familiar. Almost instantly, it hit me: I'm Not Crying by Flight of the Conchords.
I think it speaks volumes of this film's dedication to fun and good times that even when the events onscreen are supposed to invite pathos, the carefully chosen music still tries to make you laugh. And it succeeds!
The pirates are a motley mob of misfits, and they're a very rounded group of characters considering that they don't even have names. Case in point, the heroic pirate captain is know, to his friends and enemies alike, as Pirate Captain. Brilliant.
The humour is anarchic, knowing, silly and relentless – it never goes for the cheap pop-culture nod in order to invite an audience to mistake familiarity for mirth (take note, Dreamworks). The animation is beautiful and is served perfectly by its rough-hewn hand-crafted finish. The soundtrack is a rousing mix of 70s rock, and often the film supports the notion that food looks much more delicious when animated than it does in real life.
A rip-roaring swashbucking treat for the whole family!**
* I believe that Pixar only made the disappointingly naff Cars in order to reassure us that they are indeed human and thus capable of making mistakes. Cars 2, on the other hand, was made to cash-in on a lucrative merchandise market. But if this provides the juice to keep the Pixar motors running, who's complaining? I'm quite happy with the prospect of putting-up with bland offerings like Cars if it entails that we have things like Brave to look forward-to.
** This is my attempt at a soundbite – a gobbet – to appear on posters alongside “Utterly hilarious – The Daily Telegraph” - wish me luck!