Friday, June 6, 2014


Who else had the desire to see this today? Just me then?

Given the absolute magic that was Xanadu and The Apple its understandable the appeal to create fantastical '80s musicals meshing fashion and sound, cartoon humor with knowing winks to the audience. So some filmmakers in Australia decided to try their hand at something everyone in the 80s was begging for - a big splashy rendition of the Pirates of Penzance.

The obvious observation out of the gate is giving this film the award for laziest title ever.  We couldn't name it Pirates of Penzance?  How did that producers meeting go?

Producer 1: Its called Pirates of Penzance and its a musical. People like both of those things, right?

Producer 2: People won't know what they're getting! We need to give it a more hip, more contemporary title! We're calling it The Pirate Movie until we think of something else."

At this point in my blog I give a quick recap of the plot. To this one, I say, if you have to ask, then this movie just isn't for you.  You walk in blind and let it dress your brain up in ruffles.

How much sense does this movie make? Absolutely none. None at all.

I had to link the 80s-tastic opening credits. Somewhere Gilbert and Sullivan are shaking their heads and saying, "Don't put our names on this."

The film doesn't try for seriousness, in fact it tries for lightheartedness in the way that surgeons try to save patients lives after near fatal car accidents.   Basically, if you're not making a goofy face on frame, then you're not doing your job...

"Okay, we wanted this scene to show you've got muscles, but how will the audience know we're being funny?"

Maybe its just this movie was made in a different time, but there was some weirdly sexual scenes included that were played up for laughs.  The '80s synth music just made it more upsetting.

 The scenes start out innocently enough...

But what you're missing is the weird grunty sex noises Kristy McNichol makes while Pirate John Tesh flexes his muscles.

This scene also got the Ick Medal...
(shifts uncomfortably, looks down at phone....)

"We've got a big goofy song and dance number going on...but the audience might not understand its funny. Get me a silly face!"

This is our villain. He's hilarious. At least according to the director who kept making him do these faces. Espescially during song and dance numbers.

Maybe you're asking yourself, "So much dignity left at the door. How low could they go?"

Oh, they went low. Low, like the bottom of the sea.


Kristy McNichol sings a song called "Pumpin' and Blowin..."

 ...while the guy from Blue Lagoon did a weird awkward dance with animated fish.

No one asked for this, but they gave it to us anyway.

(shifts uncomfortably in my chair, stares at phone)

"Chris, this scene is funny and all but you know what would take it to the next level? Make that funny face!"

I guess an important part of the plot is that our hero can't go out on his own and be independent from the Pirates of Penzance because he was born on a leap year and is therefore only 5 years old. I've filed this story twist away in THINGS TO NEVER USE IN A SCRIPT.

There's a lot of music that is used in this. Some of it is from the original opera, some of it from a songwriter based in LA that had a "lost weekend*" style writing session when coming up with these songs.

*This infers that there's a songwriter who did a lot of illegal substances in hopes of touching the mind of God while creating these songs. This is never the way to do it.

During this 90 minute music video, there was a music video that had this romantic montage...

...with scenes that couldn't have possibly happened, because there was no time in this film's timeline. Perhaps I am a stickler for the rules of space and time.

"Kristy, you clearly understand the hilarious undertones of hiding out in a knight costume are all dependent on your goofy face. You'll have to teach Chris..."

Have you discovered your movie is funny, but could be funnier? Gather together the largest group of Keystone Cops possible and watch things really take off.

This is not photoshop. During a swordfight, our hero picks up a lightsaber and waved it around. Clearly our movie was not expecting people to sit this far into it.

The big finale was a high school production of Pirates of Penzance set in one of the chaperone's yard.

People are playing along, but you can tell everyone who went to Julliard in this lineup is regretting everything espescially not going to that networking meeting where all those Broadway producers showed up.

But none of this matters. You know why?

Because it was all a dream.

Happy endings all around.

And well done to the casting directors who picked the love interests to look like fraternal twins.
(uncomfortably shifts, stares at phone when realizes the implications of that reality).



  1. Pirate movie is truly awful but I think that is why I love it so much. Love your review, such a clever idea for a blog!

  2. It was nowhere near awful!!!!!! it was superb!

  3. I've looked forever for this movie. I had it in VCR but it got stolen. I was about to buy it from Amazon til I saw this ad. Now I can watch this as many times as I want. Love the soundtrack also. Thanks.

  4. I loved this movie when I was younger and I'm not ashamed to say I still love it even now at 42. There's a charming sort of naive innocence about it. The jokes are goofy and very cheeky but there's nothing mean or degrading about them. It's like they couldn't decide between adult or teen humor and went with teen because they figured no reasonable adult would want to see a rock and roll pirate movie based on a stage musical.

    At least in my case they were wrong. Btw the musician who wrote the pop song stuff is named Mike Brady (no not -that- Mike Brady). Mike is an Aussie who achieved some fame by writing "Up There Cazaly" the 1979 song written to promote Channel Seven's coverage of the Victorian Football League (VFL). It has since become an unofficial anthem of Australian rules football. The Pirate Movie was filmed in Australia.

  5. This has been my favorite movie since 1982. I was three the first time I watched it and drove my parents nuts everyday since. Nothing like a child singing all the songs at the top of her lungs! I still watch it and drive my kids crazy lol!

  6. I have also loved this movie since I was a child. I don't understand why this never became a cult classic.

    1. Becuase the Pirates of Penzance is a silly musical to start with (Kevin Kline's version which inspired this one bombed, too). Now add a cheesy script and sugary soft rock and you've got a bad film that just happens to have a bit of heart. It's a terrible film that's just barely saved (to those who love it) or sunk (for those who don't) due to its silliness.