It's hard not to smile when watching "The Pirates! Band of Misfits" (B+). The latest from the creators of "Chicken Run" and "Wallace and Gromit" is a clever family film that plays to audiences of all ages.

"Pirates" focuses on a rag-tag bunch led by the Pirate Captain (the voice of Hugh Grant). He's determined to finally win the prestigious Pirate of the Year award, but realizes his chances are slim with fellow pirates Black Bellamy (voiced by Jeremy Piven) and Cutless Liz (the voice of Salma Hayek) also entered.

But things start to turn for the better when the Pirate Captain is introduced to Charles Darwin, who then proceeds to introduce the pirate crew to Queen Victoria with hopes of getting enough gold to win the coveted award.

Any film that gives Charles Darwin a monkey sidekick who also serves as his butler is already headed in the right direction, and fortunately for "Pirates" that is only the tip of the iceberg.

Gideon DeFoe's screenplay is smart and very funny with some very well staged laughs. The direction from Peter Lord and Jeff Newitt is just as smart, full of some laugh out loud sight gags.

This is a film that young kids will appreciate, but parents will find fun as well.


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