December 7, 2014

Pirates: High Seas Hilarity

Some movies are elaborate meals, some movies are pure puke, and some are complete confections. Squarely in the candy category is director Lee Seok-hoon's deliciously silly Pirates, a salt water taffy of a movie if there ever was one. To extend this sugary metaphor, Lee's tasty adventure pic manages to be chewy and colorful as it stretches plausibility beyond belief. The individual ingredients may be neither good for you nor even particularly good but the sweetness here is undeniable. And yes, you will want more. Okay, enough toothsome metaphorical talk. On to the motion picture.

Though there's a lady swashbuckler (Son Ye-jin) front and center, Pirates doesn't break new ground in comedy or gender-blind casting. To the contrary, it serves up stereotypes and cliches unapologetically. There's an evil, petty guy (Kim Tae-woo) with the requisite eyepatch, a despotic, vengeful patriarchal figure (Lee Kyeong-yeong) who drowns only to reappear having not drowned after all, a king who must learn life lessons from his patriotic servants, and a pair of mismatched lovers (Son and Kim Nam-gil) who find out they were meant for each other. Which isn't to say the film has no novelties. It abounds with them! A momma whale who bonds with a young girl? A tethered shark that can turn a sailboat into a motorboat? A drunken bandit-monk (Park Cheol-min) who drinks gasoline without consequence? Pirates is nothing if not full of quirks.

Quirks and gags, that is. A running joke about peeing in the ocean while standing next to your beloved gets increasing laughs as does a bumbling thief (a marvelous Yoo Hae-jin) whose promotions and demotions occur with every changing tide. The utter, unending preposterous is Pirates greatest asset. As stupid comedies go, this one does dumb jokes smartly. Something Lee did before with the high school comedy See You After School and the equally corny, campy Dancing Queen. But if See You After School and Dancing Queen are good examples of ridiculousness, Pirates is ridiculousness at its best. Practice makes perfekt.

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