Pirate Movie, The
Reviewed by Tom Panarese
Rating: 5 Beans
ome movies kill careers. Some movies kill genres. Some movies kill viewers. Very rare is it that a movie does all three.
Enter "The Pirate Movie."
I canít be too harsh on this adaptation of Gilbert & Sullivanís "The Pirates of Penzance" because unlike other Bad Movie Night fodder (such as "Glitter"), this film is not meant to be taken seriously. It's a spoof of pirate movies, which makes this definitely more entertaining than an evening on "Cutthroat Island." But then again, a prostate exam is more entertaining than an evening on "Cutthroat Island." Regardless, "The Pirate Movie" may be bad, but it's definitely a good kind of bad.
The plot of the film is pretty simple. Mabel (Kristy McNichol) is a nerdy girl who meets Frederic (Christopher Atkins) at some pirate exhibition in some harbor (in Australia, where the movie was filmed, although the harbor is so non-descript it might as well be Baltimore). Frederic is surrounded by a gaggle of bikini-clad girls who would probably go on to star in "Hardbodies," all of whom take off with him, leaving Mabel in the dust. She chases after them on a small sailboat and winds up almost drowning, washing up on a beach. What follows is a dream sequence that lasts for the majority of the movie--Mabel dreams that sheís the fair maiden and Frederic is the good-boy (read: virgin with no tattoos) pirate who falls for her. But, of course, thereís a catch. The Pirate King (Ted Hamilton) lays claim to Frederic and he means to keep that claim.
And hijinks ensue.
Actually, what follows is sheer insanity.
Itís pretty safe to say that this film was an unmitigated disaster when it came out and probably didnít do much for Kristy McNicholís career (after all, she went to star on "Empty Nest" a few years later and has all but dropped off the face of the Earth). It didnít do much for the movie musical either. I mean, picture it. Itís 1982. The movie musical genre is on life support after "Xanadu" and "Sgt. Pepperís Lonely Hearts Club Band." And here comes "The Pirate Movie" to pull the plug. Nobody dares pay money to see a movie musical for 20 years (and even then, "Chicago" is getting beaten at the box office by "Kangaroo Jack"). But with original songs like "Pumpiní and Blowiní," can you really blame Ďem? The songs in this movie that werenít adapted straight from Gilbert & Sullivanís musical sound like the producers had Steve Perry ... no, scratch that. Like the producers had Stan Bush on retainer.
Whatís even more amazing about "The Pirate Movie" is its role in simply destroying its viewer. Youíre planning on getting wasted when youíre watching this movie because there is no other way to watch it. This movie is not only a drinking game, itís a gateway drug. Youíll start off by drinking in the opening credits, but as the 98 minutes of film progresses, you will get into heavier drugs (something Iím suspecting the writers were doing as well). For instance, when an animated octopus playing a guitar appears during "Pumpiní and Blowiní," that may or may not be the result of the LSD, and when the entire cast decides to add the hand jive to "Happy Ending" (the movieís ambitious closing number), youíll be mainlining heroin.
If you survive watching this movie (and the subsequent methadone clinic visit), youíll definitely want to get a few friends together to watch it so they can be singing "I am the Pirate King" for the next two weeks.
Other reviews for this movie:
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