I’m past the age of watching animated movies about fairies, but thanks to some savvy casting decisions by Disneytoon, I saddled up for this direct-to-video production with only the expectation of topping up my Tom Hiddleston fangirl credentials. I didn’t think I’d actually enjoy it, but leave it up to the Disney fairies to cast a few magical spells.
While this film isn’t exceptionally strong in the animation department and carries some questionable assumptions about girls’ intelligence, it’s an engaging adventure that’s enjoyable for kids and amusing for non-cynical adults. The Pirate Fairy is part of a series featuring a band of fairies led by Tinker Bell (Mae Whitman), though in this installment, a feisty worker named Zarina (Christina Hendricks) gets the guest starring role.
She is a pixie dust keeper in the land of Pixie Hollow and, from the looks of it, the only one who delights in her job. And who can blame her for finding such wonder in little specks of glitter that have magical powers, including the power to fly? Unfortunately, everyone else finds her constant curiosity a bit of a chore. “Well, that’s just how pixie dust works,” someone says without ever bothering to answer her questions. This prompts Zarina to do what scientists have always done – conduct experiments. She throws together ingredients with an amateur baker’s abandon, and before she knows it, she’s crafted a colorful palette of dust, each with its own unique powers. One misstep, however, leaves Pixie Hollow in ruins and forces her to seek out a place more appreciative of her talents.
That place turns out to be a pirate ship, and when Tinker Bell and her friends see Zarina a year later, the inquisitive fairy has found a new calling as a pixie dust conjuring pirate captain. At her command is a rowdy crowd of seafaring plunderers, including a more genteel mate by the name of James Hook (Tom Hiddleston). Together, they aim to make enough dust to turn their ship into a flying schooner, which logic says makes a better getaway vehicle.
The Pirate Fairy works well as a prequel to Peter Pan. Hiddleston, who’s proven himself to be a damn good rogue, does a deft job playing a chirpy, eager to please cabin boy who may or may not show hints of becoming a big, bad captain. Hook’s reptilian nemesis also makes an appearance as a truly adorable and saucer-eyed croc-let. Hendricks, meanwhile, makes her character a memorable one, balancing Zarina’s enthusiasm and rejection, even though she doesn’t figure in the classic.
The action never sags and the story follows the strict trajectory of a fantasy adventure. The landscape adds to the effect, and there are some detailed animations of Pixie Hollow. The roaring sea also comes to life, more so if you’re watching in 3D. However, the film fails to take full advantage of its fairytale setting and lacks some of the fun and creativity you’d expect in a movie about magical pixie dust.
More unappealing though is the simplistic plot contrivance that pushes Zarina away. There are many cases of wronged geniuses, but for a movie presumably aimed at girls, the depiction of Zarina’s befuddled, unquestioning coworkers is off-putting. Pixie Hollow seems to be a place where inquisitive fairies are an aberration, where the pursuit of knowledge will get you ostracized if you’re lucky and fired if you’re not. At least Tinker Bell and company balance things out with their quick thinking and resourcefulness, which the young audience will recognize as cool traits rather than weird ones.
“The Frigate That Flies”
“Who I Am” by Natasha Bedingfield:
Prod: Jenni Magee-Cook
Dir: Peggy Holmes
Writer: Jeffrey M. Howard, Kate Kondell
Cast: Mae Whitman, Christina Hendricks, Tom Hiddleston, Lucy Liu, Raven-Symone, Megan Hilty, Pamela Adlon, Angela Bartys, Jim Cummings, Carlos Ponce, Jeff Bennett, Angelica Huston
Time: 78 min
Country: United States