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Australia 1982
Directed by
Ken Annakin
105 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2 stars

The Pirate Movie

Everyone loves a spoof but Ken Annakin’s adaptation of Gilbert and Sullivan’s 'The Pirates of Penzance' is hamstrung by tin-pot production values, a second-rate cast and lack of directorial flair. One can discern the wackily absurdist intent of the screenplay which attempts to invest G & S’s jolly romp with a sense of ribald farcicality but at no stage does Annakin ever come close to realizing this and what presumably is intended to be irreverent parody could just as easily be taken as juvenile amateurism.

Annakin was apparently brought in after the production had begun, and particularly given that the three leads, Christopher Atkins, who had risen rapidly to fame opposite Brooke Shields in Blue Lagoon (1980) and here demonstrates a striking resemblance to Michael Crawford, Kristy McNichol, a child star from the American TV series Family and Ted Hamilton (who was also executive producer) were all American, it really only technically can be considered an Australian film, the main visible component thereof being the oft-seen Werribee Mansions and Loch Ard Gorge on the Great Ocean Road

The film was nominated for a host of Golden Raspberry Awards and won (the judges clearly seeing incompetence where parody was intended) Worst Musical Score, Worst Director and Worst Original Song for “Pumpin' and Blowin'", penned by Mike Brady and Peter Sullivan. Inexplicably Garry McDonald, who plays multiple roles, including an Inspector Clouseau clone, was nominated for an AFI Award as Best Actor in a Supporting Role (with slightly more justification Aphrodite Kondos was nominated for Best Achievement in Costume Design).

Not so bad as to be good but getting close, The Pirate Movie has enough fans who love it for its flaws as to be approaching cult status.




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