The Pirate Movie has always been one of my favorite popcorn flicks. It’s a parody of The Pirates of Penzance (which is itself a parody), and it has some fun takes on the music from that play.
The nerdy and shy Mabel is always being picked on by the other girls. After getting caught in a storm after being left behind by people she thought were her friends, she is thrown overboard and washes up on the shore. While unconscious, she begins dreaming she is the daughter of a Major General and in love with a former pirate.
The premise of the film is rather corny, but that’s part of its charm. The plot isn’t that deep, and takes a few leaps that can only be explained because it’s all a dream. However, Kristy McNichol does a good tongue-in-cheek job throughout The Pirate Movie. I could tell she was having fun during the shoot, and that translated into more fun in the film itself.
Ted Hamilton was wonderful as the Pirate King. He had panache, a wry sense of humor, and he is perfect as a flamboyant pirate in the vein of Captain Hook. Maggie Kirkpatrick had the energy and determination to be really wonderful as Ruth, the long-suffering ship’s nurse. Together, they made a wonderful pair.
The music was partially from The Pirates of Penzance, partially popular music from the early 80s, and partially new material written specifically for The Pirate Movie. Some of the new songs were pretty corny, but a couple of them stood out. “First Love”, sung as a duet between McNichol and Christopher Atkins (the objet de désir for McNichol’s character), worked really well. I don’t think I’ve heard McNichol sing anywhere else, but she (and Atkins, too) has a good voice.
“Hold On”, a solo by McNichol, was beautiful. As I don’t own the soundtrack, I’m not sure of the title, but I really liked the song used at the beginning of the film when Atkin’s character was showing a film to tourists. I found it captured the dark adventurous spirit attributed to pirates in much of the media. Going back to the corny side, “Pumpin’ and Blowin'” just made me laugh. It was used when Frederic was searching the bottom of the sea for the treasure.
In the end, The Pirate Movie is not a spectacular, amazing film, but it is very fun to watch. It never takes itself too seriously, which makes it a great popcorn flick. It doesn’t require any intellectual investment, either. If you want adventurous pirates and music you can simply enjoy, this is the film for you.
Release Date: August 6, 1982 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (some drinking)
Language: 2 (occasional, mostly mild, some stronger & deity)
Sexuality: 2 (multiple bikini scenes, frequent innuendo)
Violence: 1 (mostly slapstick violence, some peril on the high seas)