July 7, 2006 -- I'm so happy this morning. I've got a birthday present for everybody. No, it's not your birthday. It's my birthday. I'm three days younger than America. And the present? The best summer movie of the summer.
The only way I can imagine a better summer movie is if Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford get "Indiana Jones 4" done before Labor Day, and that can't happen because they don't even have a script yet. "Pirates 2" is that much fun.
Here's what makes a great summer movie: Action -- lots of action. And the action here is virtually nonstop. The special effects have to be special. But even with all that, movies are about characters, never about the special effects. That was the problem with "M:I:3."
With a treasure like Johnny Depp as Capt. Jack Sparrow, "Pirates" is never short on character, and I don't know why, but Kiera Knightley still trusts him to do the right thing.
In the new film, Knightley and Orlando Bloom are about to be married when the British government threatens to hang them if they can't coerce Capt. Jack Sparrow into stealing the keys to Davey Jones' locker.
If you thought all you get from spending too much time underwater is wrinkly fingers, wait until you see Davey Jones (the wonderful Bill Nighy) and his barnacle-encrusted gang of undead pirates. This monster parade, along with the film's 2½ hour run time, are two reasons "Pirates 2" may not be right for young kids.
But what really blew me out of the water, so to speak, is the effortless way director Gore Verbinski segues from action to action. Capt. Jack trips into an open grave. Orlando Bloom, who becomes a name-above-the-title movie star with this one, sword fights on a water wheel. And when that water wheel snaps off its hinges, it rolls over Capt. Jack, who loses the keys to Davey Jones' locker ... and that's just how this sequence begins.
Maybe the success of this film (and it should be huge) will prove to Hollywood that what makes a great summer movie isn't four-letter words but one three-letter word: F-U-N.
This film is so much fun. The cast has fun. The audience has fun. Your popcorn tastes better, it's that much fun. And all the other wannabe summer blockbusters have been so serious and glum. "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" is the best summer movie of the summer. And, of course, you know it's rated "Aargh!" Grade: A-
"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" is produced by Walt Disney Pictures, a division of the Walt Disney Co., which is also the parent company of ABC News.