Happy Birthday, Frederic!

Although 1982’s musical The Pirate Movie was a commercial flop, many of us who grew up in the 80s and had HBO became well acquainted with the film due to frequent weekend repeat showings. In the movie, Frederic (Christopher Atkins) is a pirate apprentice who, at the age of 21, decides to leave his pirate brethren (led by the “Pirate King”, played by Ted Hamilton) and head out on his own. Within minutes of leaving the pirate ship Frederic spots Mabel (Kristy McNichol) and her sisters prancing around on a nearby beach. Frederic and Mabel instantly fall in love, but a family custom that requires the sisters to marry in order of their age prevents the two of them from getting married.

Late in the film, the Pirate King plays his trump card. Frederic was born on February 29th, and the contract between the two states that Frederic will remain a pirate until his 21st birthday. Since Frederic was born on Leap Year Day, technically he has only had five birthdays.

That doesn’t stop Frederic and Mabel from setting out to acquire her father’s treasure which had been stolen by the pirates 20 years prior. That search leads to this song, “Pumping and Blowing”, which was also nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award that same year.


I assume the film takes place in 1981; that would mean Frederic was born in 1960 (a leap year), and would have made him 21 in 1981. That would make Frederic officially 52 years old … er, 13 years old today. Happy Birthday, Frederic!


Rob O'Hara

I'm into old video games, old arcade games, old computer games, writing, photography, computer/network security, and of course, the 1980s!

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7 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Frederic!

  1. Doug says:

    Great math for a horrible movie. Now can you tell me why I associate it with Air Supply’s “Even The Nights Are Better”?

  2. Sounds like a teen-oriented remake (ripoff) of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Pirates Of Penzance,” which they made into a great movie. I never knew that’s what this movie was until I read your synopsis.

  3. Like the Retroist, I am a HUGE fan of this movie. Zany and weird but a ton of fun. I also own the soundtrack and still listen to not only Pumpin’ and Blowin’ but the Modern Major General song.

    Great article.


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