Ted Wilson (Landon Sheetz) and George Washington the Pirate (Joey Loboda) are best friends who live in suburbia in a house with multi-talented musician Peter Shaffer (Mark Schulte) and the soft-spoken and mysterious Wang Smith (Tyler James Ask). One day Ted and George decide to form a band, and the rest of the film follows the friends as they deal with various absurd, silly and cliché scenarios while running the gauntlet of narrative plot devices such as training montages to huge action fights to owing the IRS money to getting the next big gig for the band. Overall, it’s a creative clusterfuck of gibberish, but it makes me laugh so I like it.
It was about a year ago when I first reviewed Arrgh! A Pirate Story. While it’s not the first time I’ve seen a film and then seen a different version later, I must say that, as far as actually writing another review, it’s not very common. For the most part, my opinion on the absurd tone and the general feeling of random insanity hasn’t changed. This film is still pretty nutty, though now it does feel more focused. My biggest criticism of the previous cut of the film was that it was far too long and rambling, but this cut is almost 20 minutes shorter at 94 minutes (previous cut was 110 minutes long) showing that, if nothing else changed, at least there was less of it.
And you know what, whereas before I was of the opinion that it was a collection of silliness and nonsense hung on the barest of plots, this newer version actually makes it feel a bit more cohesive on the narrative side of things. Now it feels less like a weak plot existing to prop up gibberish, and more like gibberish existing within the context of the plot. Which is funny, because now that it is tighter in running time and narrative, it points out that the film could trim itself even a little bit more and it’d finally have a consistent pace and flow across the board.
See, before there was so much going on, it was hard to say where the momentum started to shift and the film began to feel laborious; it just seemed like a neverending string of nonsensical gags for almost two hours. Now, I can tell you precisely where the film still feels a little bloated. Simply, there are two sequences in the film that stray far enough from the band narrative so much that they slow the pace up and feel extraneous, and those sequences are the beginning of Ted’s brainstorming session in the shower up until the Red Bull sequence (that’s right, no Jorgan Smoshington and Ed Tilson) and the Ouija board segment. Honestly, those two sequences disappear and this film serves the expressed narrative from start to finish, keeping up the momentum and pace all the way.
Why am I getting so specific? Well, look, the filmmakers submitted this film to us twice already, so they must’ve found something of value in the vague musings I had the first time around. If they’re reading the second time, I’m going to get specific in the off chance that, should they even remotely think of submitting this film for review for a third time, they’ll know precisely where my head is at. I’m running out of things to say about the film, but I do think one more run through the editorial process could be the answer for this getting as good as it can get (for me, at least).
In conclusion, this cut of Arrgh! A Pirate Story is, in my humble opinion, much better than the last. The goofy tone and overall off-kilter humor of the film are the same as they ever were, and the production values are as creatively sparse as one could come up with, but shaving almost 20 minutes off the original running time makes the film far easier to swallow. And, yes, if my editing suggestion above were to be used, it’d probably lose another 10-15 minutes, but, dammit, it’s a comedy, and an hour to 70 minutes of comedy that works all the way through is better than a hour and a half that mostly works, save for some unnecessary detours.
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