There's a voice in my head telling me not to name Pirates of the Caribbean best movie of 2003. It's Disney, for crying out loud, and it's based on an amusement park ride! That means it's kin-folk with The Country Bears, and encouraging the production of that kind of dreck is treason of the worst kind.
Even as I write this, my desire to be elitist is demanding I choose American Splendor instead. After all, it was undoubtedly one of the most original films of the year, flouting the laws of documentary filmmaking. There's no contrived character growth, no happy endings, no easy answers.
It's real, and it's moving.
So, what does Pirates have going for it? Cheesy skeleton CGI, Geoffrey Rush chewing scenery, Johnny Depp acting drunk and a monkey with a taste for gold. Sure, it's entertaining, it'll captivate you for the two hours or so that it's on the screen, but it won't change your life. You won't become a better person for watching it. It's eye candy and it goes well with the peanuts and soda pop.
But I'll be damned if it wasn't the most fun I had at the theatre all year.
Instead of aiming for a sterilizing G rating, Disney allows the pirates to do pirate-y things and make pirate-y threats. There's debauchery, cruelty, swashbuckling, heroics and narrow escapes, all just to add to the sense of spectacle.
And, as if that wasn't enough, there is actually a commentary on the costs of greed and the burdens of immortality. Granted it's not exactly ground breaking philosophy, but it's enough to make you pity a crew of bloodthirsty skeletons.
So, which is more important--art or entertainment? Is it necessary to challenge the viewer's preconceptions, to blur the line between fact and fiction, or are we allowed to just have fun?
At the end of the day, I want to have fun.
A Mighty Wind