If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Every pirate's dream is to one day win the Pirate of the Year Award, and The Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant) is no exception. The trouble is that he's not at all likely to ever win, so when an opportunity to earn enough money to fake it arises, he leaps at the chance.
I know I'm in a strange minority here but I really just do not like Aardman productions. This is from the same guys who made Chicken Run and, of course, Wallace and Gromit, and their humor and character types haven't changed a bit. The problem is that their sense of humor just doesn't click with me at all. And it's not a cultural barrier thing, it's not "British humor" that is turning me off. Aardman has a very distinct, very juvenile sense of humor that just doesn't appeal to me in the slightest. While I do like their sight gags occasionally (and there are more than plenty of those here), the dialogue always sounds like it was written by a third grader and a lot of their jokes are very forced. There's a moment in this film where The Pirate Captain realizes how he can get the money to win the competition and they do the joke of a cash register chime while focused on his head, but then they pan out and there just happens to be a cash register sitting there on a pirate ship and he actually reached over and hit a button to make that sound. This is just one example of many pathetically forced gags throughout the film.
There are a few good smirks to be had here and there, such as a running gag involving one of the pirates possibly being a woman in disguise. They don't overplay it and they don't run it into the ground. They do however constantly make jokes about pigs (not "jokes" as much as "referencing swine and swine products") and throw in cultural references that only lead to confusion or padding out the film.
The reason I don't rate this movie lower though is because The Pirate Captain really is an endearing character. All of the heart of the film comes from him and at times you do want to see him succeed (despite him being, you know, a pirate and all). I like the gag of his name actually being The Pirate Captain, despite there being several other pirate captains, and none of them seem to have a problem with him using that name. The voice casting was pretty decent all around, but Hugh Grant was a perfect choice in order to make The Pirate Captain have that charm he needed.
This goes in the "Worst Kind of Movie" category in that it's not bad enough to get angry at but there's not really much good to it either. It's just dull, and exactly what I expected from Aardman. I guess if that works for you, fine, but you're not going to get a recommendation from me.