Some industries hand out awards left and right; movies and journalism come to mind.
Other professions have tougher standards, like piracy.
That's the difficulty faced by the Pirate Captain at the start of "The Pirates! Band of Misfits," the rollicking new nautical misadventure from Aardman Animations, the creative powers behind the stop-motion adventures of Wallace & Gromit.
Although he has entered the "Pirate of the Year Contest" for "exactly" 20 years — well, maybe 21, 22, he's not counting and you should stop — he has never won. Perfectly voiced by Hugh Grant, who hits brash, abashed and everything in between, Pirate Captain interrupts Ham Nite, even though it's "the best thing about being a pirate," to pledge his loyal crew to seek the prize again.
Loosely adapted by Gideon Defoe from one of his "Pirates!" novels, and helmed by Peter Lord of "Chicken Run," the whole escapade breezes past, propelled by high spirits, and visual and verbal puns. Often with more buckle than swash, the Pirate Captain and company sail Aardman's handmade claymation into the 3D era, with the very reluctant help of Charles Darwin and the outright animosity of Queen Victoria.
But a man with a parrot can dream, especially if it's a loyal but oddly stout and flightless parrot like Polly, "the heart of the ship." And Pirate Captain does have some points in his favor, like the requisite luxurious beard, half a face full of linguini in red sauce curlicues. And under the prodding of his loyal number two, the Pirate with a Scarf, Pirate Captain admits that he's also good at running people through: "I really enjoy it."
That bit about booty, though, that's a sore point. When Pirate captain snazzily skids in to drop anchor at Blood Island, "named because it looks like some blood," he finds the wanted poster offers 12 doubloons "and a free pen" for his capture. "Go ahead and laugh!" he defies the unsavory crowd in "The Barnacle's Face" tavern. So they do, uproariously and unstintingly.
After all, they've just seen just seen sultry Cutlass Liz, sultrily voiced by Salma Hayek, unveil some real booty, the world's largest gem. Then, Black Bellamy steps off the unrolling tongue of a gigantic, just-beached whale and gold pieces pour out around him. Played by Jermey Piven with all the false bonhomie and glib insults of a piratical agent, BB is a perennial prize winner.
Ah, but if you lack Black Bellamy's golden touch, it can be hard to go looting on an ocean filled with leper ships, ghost ships and class trips. The Pirate Captain is about stop bounding about the main and return to his fallback plan, knitting baby clothes, when the lookout spies yet another ship.