The year is 1837. A newly crowned Queen Victoria, voiced by Imelda Staunton and animated in clay as a shrewish little turnip of a woman, decrees war on buccaneering. Well down her most-anted list is the Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant), an only middling terror of the trade routes who's a perennial also-ran for Pirate of the Year. On the way to the Queen and Captain's crossing swords, The Pirates! hits the usual kid's pic stops — pop montage, theme-park-ride action, heartwarming affirmation of true friendship — but a script that consistently finds fresh outlets for its running gags makes for a sufficiently rollicking pleasure cruise. The take-home lesson is a kind of outcast morality — better to be an honest pirate than a dishonest queen.
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