The Pirates! Band of Misfits, the latest stop motion movie by Aardman Animations, appears to have been a roaring success with the critics and should recoup a large portion of its $60 million budget at the US box office this weekend. The movie, directed by Chicken Run filmmaker Peter Lord, features the voices of Hugh Grant and David Tennant.

It follows the story of a crew of amateur pirates, led by the hapless Pirate Captain who harbours dreams of winning the Pirate of the Year Award. Following various failed raids on useless ships - including a nudist boat - they hijack the 'Beagle' and encounter Charles Darwin who informs them that their ship 'parrot' is actually the last living dodo. The New York Times heaped praise on the film, saying, "The movie is a curiosity cabinet of visual pleasures but so breezy and lightly funny that you may not realize at first how good it is", while USA Today offered, "May be far more ragtag than swashbuckling, but the film is sure-footed, witty and zany fun". British actor Hugh Grant has already spoken of his surprise at being cast as the Pirate Captain and told CNN, "It was very rare for me to do some character acting like that.I had to go back to a much earlier part of my career when I was in my twenties when I actually did lots of silly voices and acting".

It's been a quiet few years for Grant, though he has already signed on to feature in Bridget Jones's Baby - the third movie in the comedy romance series.