The Pirate Movie (1982)
The studio execs at 20th Century Fox should have laughed in the face of whomever pitched them the idea for The Pirate Movie. At the very least, someone should've lost their job for greenlighting it.
Here we have an unholy mash-up of pirate adventure and teen romantic comedy all of which is mired in a dreadful conglomeration of Gilbert and Sullivan musicals H.M.S. Pinafore and The Pirates of Penzance grafted atop a 1980s pop/rock opera. The music is bad, the comedy is moronic and it all moves at a glacial pace.
The plot of The Pirate Movie, once you dispense with the lame modern-day (circa 1982) framing device ripped off from The Wizard of Oz, involves Kristy McNichol as the free-spirit daughter of the Major General and Christopher Atkins as a pirate wanting to cut his bonds to Ted Hamilton, the Pirate King, in order to marry McNichol. Essentially, this is just a thin clothesline in which to hang lots of sea battles, swordfights, singing fair maidens and many, many sexual double-entendres.
It's hard to know who exactly was the intended audience. Action fans will be bored (even those who feel that The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is the ultimate in great screen entertainment), musical fans will be appalled, and parents may find some of the penis and gay jokes inappropriate for youngsters who may be the only possible viewers to be entertained by it.
As far as the acting goes, McNichol is still able to exude charm and likability even in the worst of circumstances, which helps her here, and Atkins is a pretty boy without an ounce of acting talent. After three high-profile turkeys, this, The Blue Lagoon before it and A Night in Heaven after it, Atkins was sent to direct-to-video and TV-movie hell where he toils still to this day.
When The Pirate Movie doesn't directly update and bastardize the original Gilbert and Sullivan score, it presents a bevy of original tunes by Mike Brady and Peter Sullivan. It's hard to know which is the worst of the lot: Atkins's bland ballad "How Can I Live Without Her?", the repetitious to the extreme "We are the Pirates"? No, the worst is McNichols's "Pumpin' and Blowin'", a jarringly bad pop number (with such immortal lines like "you have to swallow more than water") that she belts while Atkins is deep sea diving in a fake fish tank accompanied by singing, animated fish.
The Pirate Movie had 'bad idea' written all over it and it boggles the mind that no one involved couldn't see that. The early '80s were so rife with hideous musicals that it's surprising that the genre ever got a resurgence in the following decade. After suffering through Grease 2, Can't Stop the Music, Xanadu, Shock Treatment, The Apple and The Pirate Movie it wouldn't have been a shock if big-budget musicals had gone the way of the dodo.