The Pirate Fairy (2014)
Directed by Peggy Holmes.
Voice Cast: Mae Whitman, Christina Hendricks, Tom Hiddleston, Megan Hilty, Raven-Symone, Lucy Liu, Kari Wahlgren, Grey DeLisle, Jane Horrocks, Angela Bartys, Pamela Adlon, Mick Wingert, Jeff Bennett, Jesse McCartney, Rob Paulsen, Kevin Michael Richardson, Anjelica Huston.
2014 78 minutes
Rated: (nothing objectionable).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, March 31, 2014.
The fifth installment in Disney's popular direct-to-video "Tinker Bell" series, "The Pirate Fairy" begins to expand the mythology of J. M. Barrie's "Peter Pan" stories by moving beyond Pixie Hollow and into the larger world of Never Land. Not heeding the strict rules of boss Fairy Gary (voiced by Jeff Bennett), dust keeper Zarina (Christina Hendricks) causes a near catastrophe when she seeks to change the color of the community's strictly golden and blue pixie dust. Devastated over losing her job, she runs away. One year later, Pixie Hollow faces a crisis when the rebellious Zarina reappears to snatch the blue dust. Determined to set things right, Tinker Bell (Mae Whitman) and her fairy friends leave the safety of their home to find Zarina and convince her she belongs with them. Much to their surprise, they discover she is now the captain of a pirate ship. Her right-hand man? James (Tom Hiddleston), who all in due time is fated to become the treacherous Captain Hook.
"The Pirate Fairy" is no match for 1953's original Disney classic "Peter Pan" or its 2002 sequel "Return to Never Land
," but director Peggy Holmes gives the characters and the story's messages of acceptance and being true to oneself a buoyant, warmly felt appeal. In exploring the outside world of Never Land, beyond Pixie Hollow, the series opens its scope while feeling like a worthwhile addition to the lore of the world Barrie created. The computer animation is not up to the detailed standards of, say, the studio's theatrically released efforts, but it is attractively rainbow-hued all the same and will certainly capture the attention of its younger viewers. Megan Hilty, as Southern-fried fairy Rosetta, is the vocal standout; she gets all the best lines, and delivers them with the same aplomb as Kristin Chenoweth (who played Rosetta in some of the earlier "Tinker Bell" movies).
Bookended by songs with a single number in the middle, "The Pirate Fairy" appears to want to be a musical, but doesn't quite follow through with it during its 78-minute running time. Fortunately, there is enough that worksfrom the visuals to the simple but earnest storyto smooth out the picture's sporadic wrinkles. This is a congenial animated feature that grown-ups can enjoy, parents will appreciate for its valuable themes, and little ones will be over the moon about. A lot of imagination went into the finished project, and this is what separates it from the majority of frequently less ingenuous direct-to-video fodder.