Year Released: 2011
Directed by: Rob Marshall
Starring: Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Geoffrey Rush, Ian McShane
(PG-13, 137 min.)
"Youth is a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children." George Bernard Shaw
Forget the calendar. Summer is upon us. After all, with Johnny Depp doing his tipsy promenade on deck above the blue Caribbean, can toasted marshmallows, backyard campouts and sunbathing on the beach be far behind?
And who wouldn’t fall in love Captain Jack Sparrow and his artful combination of Huck Finn, Peter Pan, and Han Solo, with a little bit of Jackie Chan thrown in for good measure? Or maybe “Depp is at once both Treasure Island’s Long John Silver and Errol Flynn’s square-jawed Captain Blood,” as I characterized him four years ago in the Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest adventure.
And it is definitely Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow, putting his own swish in swashbuckling, who owns the film, in fact, the entire franchise. How we love to watch that bad boy work his charm and bedazzle the ladies, his smile revealing as many blackened as gold teeth, his dreadlocks awash in cheap baubles, his breath reeking of rum and in all probability dead fish. Forget all the treasure hunting. If only he could bottle that scruffy allure, Captain Jack Sparrow would own a fleet of ships instead of chasing his elusive Black Pearl all over kingdom come.
In this latest adventure, new director Rob Marshall of Chicago fame pares down the subplots that almost grounded the last two sequels, bringing this baby in at a relatively brisk two hours seventeen minutes. And everyone, from the now peg-legged Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), to the diabolically sinister Blackbeard (Ian McShane), his beautiful daughter Angelica (Penelope Cruz), a small Spanish armada, and of course, Captain Jack Sparrow, share the same quest, Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth.
But before they set sail there’s plenty of fun ashore. Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow, who sees life’s adversities as nothing more than amusing set ups for him to tap dance around, begins by freeing his loyal mate Gibbs from a certain hanging, donning the robes, wig, and spectacles of an esteemed English judge as easily as he does his officious arrogance. When the plan goes awry, Sparrow literally dances away across carriage tops, and even landing atop one used to transport coal, which somehow catches on fire, tumbling blazing pieces overboard like rejected script ideas, sparkling all the way to the dust heap. Before that Jack almost meets certain doom in the personage of King George II (Richard Griffiths), who not only offers him legitimate employment – perish the thought – but who plays his part of the wattle throated monarch with as much imperial abandon as does Depp.
Not to miss either are two wonderfully understated cameos, both of which almost disappear in the blinking of an eye. One occurs when Captain Jack deviates from jumping atop coaches to a short interlude inside one, this one occupied by Dame Judith Dench playing a sedate dowager upon whose ear lobe Jack plants a kiss. He departs with her earring in his teeth, leaving her to echo Patty Page: “Is that all?”
Somehow Sparrow also comes across his father, Captain Teague played by Keith Richards, apparently the inspiration for Depp’s interpretation of his Jack Sparrow character. Teague gives him some valuable information about the Fountain of youth, causing his son to query if he has indeed ever been there. The founding member of the Rolling Stones, his dissipated features a testimony to the hard rocker life, deadpans his reply: “Does this face look like it’s been to the fountain of youth?”
You’ll find plenty of thrills aboard as well, especially on Blackbeard’s ship, The Queen Ann’s Revenge. Manned by a crew of zombies, their faces and bodies carved like tooled leather, the ship is in thrall to its legendary Captain Blackbeard, who exudes quiet menace with his every breath. The ship’s ropes come alive like writhing serpents at his command, and when he needs a little more persuasion, Blackbeard dips into the dark art of voodoo.
All that is child’s play compared to the feared Whitecap Bay, home to a band of lovely but treacherous mermaids. One critic has called them a combination of the Greek sirens and deadly piranhas, given the diabolical finale to their mating rituals. But since a mermaid’s tear is needed to complete the fountain of youth ritual, a meeting with these deadly sea creatures is necessary. And a deadly reckoning it is, too, except for a captive missionary onboard, who takes pity one lovely creature Blackbeard captures.
And this softness finds its way into a few pirate hearts as well. Angelica, Blackbeard’s daughter, wields a sword with the best of them, but she yearns for no other treasure than the salvation of her father’s soul. Even Captain Jack Sparrow, who has a dandy metal and glass compass instead of a moral one, admits to “stirrings” in regard to Angelica. It may occur through artifice, but he ultimately gets her father to act as such, even if Angelica herself abhors the results. And the Spanish, first to find Ponce de Leon’s famous fountain, surprise us with their mission there.
On the other hand, Barbossa and Blackbeard are everything that we expect and more, blackguards till the end. Well, we can’t have all the pirates going soft on us, can we?
It in no surprise that most of the critics have turned their noses up for this fourth installment. Over at Rotten Tomatoes, the critics' 32% positive rating contrasts with the 68% positive rating of audiences, who just put down a little over $90 million for its opening weekend. I’d go with the People’s Choice this time.
“Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum,” isn’t as whimsical as you might think. For well over 300 years, Great Britain’s Royal Navy issued a daily “tot” of rum to the crews of their ships, and always a double issue before battle and after victory.
On July 31st, 1970, the Admiralty Board ended the practice, a day since referred to as “Black Tot Day.”
Captain Jack Sparrow and his cohorts, I’m sure kept up with the practice, though one might wonder if they stopped at a “tot” or two.
Let’s pretend Black Tot Day has never occurred and reinvent that cherished tradition, but let’s tart up our tot, so to speak. We’ll add banana and peach schnapps as well as cranberry, orange and pineapple juice and call it our Caribbean Breeze Cocktail.
Take a sip and you’ll be ready to meet any wayward buccaneers tumbling over your prow.
Caribbean Breeze Cocktail
- 1 oz Malibu® coconut rum
- 1/2 oz 99 Bananas® banana schnapps
- 1/2 oz peach schnapps
- 1/2 oz cranberry juice
- 1/2 oz orange juice
- 2 oz pineapple juice
Shake alcoholic ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour into a highball glass filled half way with ice; then add juices. Garnish using a pineapple slice with a sword.
Recipe Source: drinksmixer.com