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Somewhere, Mr. Peabody and Sherman — those time-traveling scamps from the "Rocky and Bullwinkle" stable of characters — are smiling at the hijacked history of "The Pirates! Band of Misfits," the latest clay-animated tale from Britain's Aardman Animation (the Wallace & Gromit folks).

The story centers on a hapless ship of pirates, led by the luckless Pirate Captain (voiced by Hugh Grant), who accidentally boards the HMS Beagle, finding not treasure but the lonely naturalist Charles Darwin (voiced by David Tennant), who realizes that the Captain's pet parrot Polly is actually the last of the dodos. This gets the attention of the pirate-hating Queen Victoria (voiced by Imelda Staunton), for her own nasty reasons.

Director Peter Lord (who co-directed Aardman's "Chicken Run") takes Gideon Defoe's script (adapted from Defoe's children's novels) and creates a fast-paced, frisky adventure. The best laughs come around the fringes, with great throwaway gags and Grant's usual self-deprecating way with dialogue.; —


'The Pirates! Band of Misfits'

Opens Friday, April 27, at theaters everywhere; rated PG for mild action, rude humor and some language; 88 minutes. For more movie reviews, visit

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