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I am not so sure if I believe that the way we assume pirates talk is really the most authentic way to speak on National Talk Like a Pirate Day. However, thanks to some of the best pirate movies (such as Hook or Treasure Island) we can speak with a thick, gravelly British accent and add “Arghhhh” at the end of every sentence when imagining the life of a buccaneer during the 17th and 18th centuries.
Perhaps instead of trying to adopt the proper affectation ourselves, we can see how well the professionals do it by streaming the following high-seas adventures, starting with the franchise that resurrected the pirate genre from Davy Jones’ Locker.
The Pirates Of The Caribbean Movies (Disney+)
Capt. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) helps break the curse upon his old ship’s crew, enlists Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann’s (Keira Knightley) help to break his own curse, battles for the future of piracy, searches for the Fountain of Youth, then races to find Poseidon’s Trident before a cursed pirate crew can.
Why they are some of the best pirate movies: Inspired by the popular Disneyland attraction of the same name, the five action-packed, visually astonishing Pirates of the Caribbean movies are what made swashbuckling adventures cool again after a long dormancy on the big screen, even if they seem to repeat themselves a bit with each new installment.
Rent/buy Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales digitally on Amazon.
Cutthroat Island (Amazon Rental)
A resilient, female buccaneer (Academy Award winner Geena Davis) and her servant (Matthew Modine) race to find the location of famed treasures before her ruthless uncle (Academy Award nominee Frank Langella) can get his hands on it.
Why it is one of the best pirate movies: It was been assumed that what caused pirate movies to go dormant on the big screen is director Renny Harlin’s 1995 action-comedy flop Cutthroat Island, but it is looked back on fondly today for Geena Davis’ heroic lead performance, John Debney’s sweeping score, and the relentlessly fun sequences.
Treasure Island (Disney+)
A young man (Bobby Driscoll) becomes a cabin boy on a ship that sets course for the alleged location of a long-lost treasure.
Why it is one of the best pirate movies: In 1950, long before Disney turned one of its most beloved them park rides into a blockbuster franchise, they turned one of the most beloved and prolific novels of all time, Treasure Island, into a fun, family-friendly classic, and it would not be the last time they adapted Robert Louis Stevenson’s most iconic work, either.
Muppet Treasure Island (Disney+)
A young man (Bobby Driscoll) becomes a cabin boy (and one of the only humans) on a ship that sets course for the alleged location of a long-lost treasure.
Why it is one of the best pirate movies: Jim Henson’s famous felted characters make the finest literature even better, and 1996’s Muppet Treasure Island (a hilarious, yet equally exciting, twist on the classic starring the always dazzling Tim Curry as Long John Silver) is one of the best examples to support that claim.
Treasure Planet (Disney+)
A young man (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) becomes a crew member (and one of the only humans) on a spaceship that sets course for a new world on which great riches can allegedly be found.
Why it is one of the best pirate movies: Disney’s most recent adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel is 2002’s animated sci-fi epic, Treasure Planet, which takes the story of Treasure Island away from the high seas and into an even higher place - the stars - along with a cybernetic Long John Silver (Brian Murray) and a fully mechanical Ben Gunn named B.E.N. (Martin Short).
Peter Pan (Disney+)
Young Wendy (Kathryn Beaumont) and her brothers are invited to visit a magical land, where pirates still roam the seas and children never grow up, by the audacious leader of the Lost Boys (Treasure Island’s Bobby Driscoll).
Why it is one of the best pirate movies: One of Disney’s earliest (and most beloved) attempts at bringing a classic pirate story to life through animation was 1953’s Peter Pan, which is still considered by many to be the definitive and most recognizable adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s whimsical stage play.
Hook (Amazon Rental)
An over-worked lawyer (Academy Award winner Robin Williams) must return to Neverland and rediscover his past as leader of the Lost Boys in order to rescue his children from his old nemesis (Academy Award winner Dustin Hoffman).
Why it is one of the best pirate movies: Director Steven Spielberg imagines what would have happened if Peter Pan grew up with 1991’s Hook, which has since evolved into a beloved cult classic, with Dustin Hoffman’s scenery-chewing performance as Captain Hook being a key reason why.
Yellowbeard (Amazon Prime)
A famous pirate breaks out of prison to join his estranged wife and unwitting son on a quest to find a long-lost treasure.
Why it is one of the best pirate movies: A fun adventure that takes a more lighthearted and humorous approach to the subject of piracy is 1983’s Yellowbeard - an uproarious send-up of pirate movies very loosely based on the life of Blackbeard that boasts a star-studded cast of comedy legends, including Blazing Saddles’ Madeline Kahn, Cheech and Chong, and Monty Python’s Graham Chapman, Eric Idle, and John Cleese.
The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie (Peacock)
A cucumber, a gourd, and a sour grape who work at a pirate-themed restaurant are magically transported to the 17th century, where they are given the chance to be real swashbucklers and help rescue a royal family from an evil band of pirates.
Why it is one of the best pirate movies: A fun, animated fantasy adventure that takes a far more lighthearted and humorous approach to the subject of piracy is The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything, which is basically a feature-length expansion of a music video from the makers of the popular VeggieTales cartoon.
Castle In The Sky (HBO Max)
A young boy and girl must outrun pirates and shady government agents while searching for a lost civilization that exists somewhere above.
Why it is one of the best pirate movies: Another fun, animated fantasy that takes a slightly more earnest approach to the subject of piracy is 1986’s Castle in the Sky - a Studio Ghibli favorite inspired by a setting from Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels that (like Treasure Planet would later) literally takes the classic swashbuckling adventure concept to new heights.
Captain Phillips (AMC+)
The leader of an American cargo ship crew (two-time Academy Award winner Tom Hanks) is taken hostage by a Somalian pirate crew who hijack his ship - the first US vessel to fall prey to such matters in over two centuries.
Why it is one of the best pirate movies: A live-action thriller that takes a more earnest and authentic approach than most to the subject of piracy is Captain Phillips - director Paul Greengrass’ 2013 immersive, chilling dramatization of the true story that shocked the world in 2009 and earned Somali-born actor Barkhad Abdi an Academy Award nomination for his debut performance.
BONUS: The Princess Bride (Disney+)
An elderly man (Peter Falk) read to his ill grandson (Fred Savage) the exciting story of a chivalrous loner’s (Cary Elwes) mission to rescue his true love (Robin Wright) from the evil prince (Chris Sarandon) she is destined to marry.
Why it is one of the best pirate movies: A film that just barely qualifies as a pirate movie (mainly for Elwes' role as the heroic Dread Pirate Roberts) but a thoroughly delightful, undisputed classic of the action-comedy genre is The Princess Bride, which is why we have included director Rob Reiner’s 1987 hit as an extra bonus item from our list to enjoy.
If you happen to believe that The Princess Bride - despite being a fun, swashbuckling, fantasy adventure - is nowhere near what constitutes a pirate movie, hopefully our other 11 selections are exactly what you were hoping to find on National Talk Like a Pirate Day.
Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.
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