Reviewed by Ned Daigle
Rating: 8 Beans
hoy, maties! Want to take a trip on the most waterlogged pirate excursion ever? No? Oh come on. It stars Walter Matthau. Still no? Well, you aren't missing much, or should I say, you are missing anything. "Pirates" is enough to make even the most seasoned movie explorer hang his/her head over with a bad case of seasickness.
One would think that with Matthau, a huge multi-million dollar budget, and the great Roman Polanski ("Chinatown", "Rosemary's Baby") as the director, "Pirates" would be one of the best pirate movies ever. You would be wrong. In fact, the exact opposite is true.
"Pirates" stars Walter Matthau as Captain Red. Who, as the movie opens, is adrift at sea with his French sidekick known simply as The Frog. Ha ha. Anyway, Red and the Frog are picked up by a passing Spanish ship. The first half of the movie takes place on this ship where Red plans mutiny to steal a golden throne. Yes, for an hour, nothing happens. At all. Ever. All the audience is treated to is several scenes with the crew milling around grumbling, and the Spanish guys sneering through bad wigs and moustaches. There is a scene where Red and the Frog are forced to eat a boiled rat, and another where we get to see the captain receive a vinegar enema.
After the mutiny is a success, Red and company land on an island where he collects some gold from a merchant. Later they dress like priests and nuns to acquire the rights to the throne, they do this by tormenting some nobleman by biting his gout-ridden toe.
Back to the ship for the grand finale. The ship sinks and Red, the Frog, and the throne are left adrift. The movie comes full circle, see?
For an action movie, "Pirates" has no action, just a couple of lackluster swordfights, one of which has the combatants riding on other men's shoulders. Some cannons are fired (at some canoes which seriously cuts into the destruction factor), and there is lots of running.
The performance by Matthau is embarrasing. He looks overheated, uncomfortable in the garish outfit he wears, and for some reason adopts a very bad cockney British accent which comes and goes. In fact, everyone involved looks like they are going to pass out from heat exhaustion, they also look seriously pissed off as if mutiny against Polanski was a serious consideration.
"Pirates" was a serious financial black hole. And no wonder, a pirate movie should be fun, this bottle of bilgewater is no fun at all. It's the Voyage of the Damned.
To all of those people who trashed "Cutthroat Island"....You have no idea what bad is.
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