Keith Richards sacrificed a lot of brain cells over the years to create the endearing persona Johnny Depp would incarnate as the pirate character of Captain Jack Sparrow. That is exactly what you have to do to be entertained by the fourth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean saga – sacrifice brain cells.
Yes, over the weekend I found myself On Stranger Tides with Johnny Depp playing the pirate version of a rock-n-roll burn-out once again. I like Johnny Depp and I think he did all he could with the silliness he was given to work with. He got to film on location in Kauai with a Spanish beauty while collecting a sum that would rival any pirate booty, so what does he care if the story content has slipped so far as to be categorized as spoof?
The key to not getting overly frustrated with the completely predictable action, the blatantly obvious loopholes or Penelope Cruz’s Oscar-unworthy performance is to think of it like watching cartoons.
Captain Jack Sparrow using a chandelier to take out a royal army to escape from the king’s palace while casually nibbling on a cream puff and saying “Savvy,” is no different than Bugs Bunny pulling out a bowling ball to scatter his pursuers like bowling pins while munching on a carrot and saying, “What’s up doc?” Is it?
With the onslaught of low-grade sequels and series that have become easy money for film production companies, movie-goers have been pretty dumbed down in our expectation of having any kind of food for thought in the theater.
As you munch popcorn and watch Captain Jack shimmy backwards up the palm tree he is tied to with 200 yards of loose rope, just imagine yourself sitting in your PJs on the couch eating Lucky Charms out of the box on a lazy Saturday morning. Then you will barely remember you expected dialog more clever than, “He’s escaping! The prisoner is escaping!”
There were some highlights that took me off my cartoon couch momentarily: Judy Dench’s cameo appearance in a brief encounter with Captain Jack where he nibbles her ear long enough to snatch an expensive earring then leaves her to exclaim, “Is that all?” And, the new cast eye candy – Philip the missionary. I’m a definite convert.
After a couple of hours of mind-numbing farce, we all arrive at the climactic face-off at the fountain of youth where Captain Jack and Gibbs, Black Beard accompanied by his love child Angelica and his crew, Captain Barbosa and his crew, an entire Spanish fleet, a lovesick missionary and a femme fatale mermaid are all gathered to duke it out for the power of eternal life.
By that time you would not be phased at all if SpongeBob Squarepants and Squidward waltzed onto the scene to join in the fray exclaiming, “Oh tarter sauce!”
If only I could have popped into the scene myself and sipped just enough of those magical waters to recapture two lost hours of a sunny spring Saturday.