'Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides'

"This isn't the best location for a date, but I'll take it." (Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures)

** (out of four)

Since you can't remember what happened in the last overlong "Pirates" movie, 2007's "At World's End," it's a good thing that "On Stranger Tides" doesn't require it. Nope, just plop into Captain Jack Sparrow's (Johnny Depp) latest adventure: the search for the fountain of youth, which may have been done in just one or 20 movies before.

The buzz: When a franchise needs a kick in the booty—and, especially after Depp admitted parts two and three made no sense to him either, there's no denying this series does—it's smart to bring along people like Ian McShane (as Blackbeard) and Penelope Cruz (as Jack’s ex-lover, Angelica). As for putting the film in the hands of director Rob Marshall ("Nine," "Chicago"), um, a pirate dance number might not hurt?

The verdict: For a change, this "Pirates" makes sense. That's all that can be said for a movie whose tides are neither strange nor high nor low. The not-funny, not-exciting "On Stranger Tides" settles in the middle like a job meant only to be executed, not successfully achieved, resulting in a sort of half-hearted imitation of fun. (When deadly mermaids don't even register, aye feel desensitized, not to mention numb enough to make stupid pirate jokes like that.) It's like the last season of a TV show that's gone on too long, except there are still more seasons/movies to come. Plank, I’m ready when you are.

Did you know? Jack notes that Angelica has awfully impressive technique for a woman who claims to have been corrupted by the legendary pirate. Clearly she’s just a quick learner?

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Fridays at 7 a.m. on WCIU, the U

mpais@tribune.com