The year was 1966. Although the sounds of rock & roll, R&B , folk and soul were exploding all over the countryside the staid BBC continued to program only the news, interview programs and the same old dreary music. The writer/director of "Pirate Radio"Richard Curtis recalled in a recent interview with Rob Lowman of the Los Angeles Daily News that "In my dad's generation they literally had eight records. They had "The Unforgettable Nat King Cole", two versions of My Fair Lady"--the stage and the movie one--"Hello, Dolly" by Louis Armstrong and one called "Mantovani: Song Hits from Theaterland"." Hmm. Sounds almost exactly like the music collection my own parents had! Meanwhile, bubbling just beneath the surface was this cornucopia of new and exciting sounds that was resonating with hundreds of thousands of British teens and young adults. The void would be filled by some enterprising entrepreneurs who decided there was lots of money to be made. So they set up radio stations on old merchant ships and broadcast from just a few miles off the coast just out of reach of the long arm of the British government. The idea was an instant smash! Teenagers loved the music while British officials absolutely hated the idea. "Pirate Radio" tells the story of one such ficticious station broadcasting from the bowels of an old tanker in the North Sea dubbed Radio Rock. I was 15 years old in 1966 so I am keenly aware of what the excitement was all about. It certainly was a great time to be a teen!
As you might expect "Pirate Radio" features a rowdy group of seafaring DJ's including Rhys Ifans, Chris O'Dowd, Nick Frost and the effervescent Philip Seymour Hoffman among others all under the dubious direction of the station's owner Quentin (Bill Nighy). During the week these guys live for the music, their growing legion of fans and for each other. But on Saturdays they are allowed a few hours of much needed female companionship and all hell seems to break loose. Also on board for a visit is Quentin's godson, a naive teen named Carl (Tom Sturridge). This is a coming of age experience for young Carl who gets to sew some wild oats while at the same time experiencing all of the madcap antics and personalities that surround him. But wait! Back in London plans are underway to put a stop to it all. Sir Alistair (Kenneth Branagh) has vowed to silence these "outlaw" stations once for all and he will use every legal trick in his arsenal to make that happen. Seems like it is only a matter of time before the government will catch up with them. Deep down inside everyone on board Radio Rock seems to understand that and they are just enjoying the ride for as long as it will last.
At the end of the day there is lots to like about "Pirate Radio". Since this is more or less an ensemble cast the chemistry between these kooky charactors is quite apparent. Then there's the music! You will hear snippets of sensational tunes from groups like The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, The Who, and TheSupremes to name but a few. It's no wonder why people who grew up in the 1960's have such a hard time letting go of this music. I also read where most of this film is shot with a hand-held camera that gives "Pirate Radio" a certain authenticity you won't find in other movies. So enjoy the music and enjoy the hijinx! Recommended!
*** out of **** "Pirate Radio", also known as "The Boat that Rocked", is pure fun. And it takes a lot of craft to create what I'd call "fun". A film that probably should have been mediocre and unfunny is turned pretty solid, and indeed funny, through a typically British sense of humor, a rocking-awesome soundtrack, and a big cast with a big heart. I won't call it great cinema, but I admire "Pirate Radio" for the good things about it, rather than scoff at it for its flaws. … more
My mom bugged me about going to see Pirate Radio (original title: The Boat that Rocked) when it hit the theaters in 2009. I didn’t want to make the effort, blah blah busy life blah so she went and saw it herself like a boss. I only do that for movies like The Dark Knight, which nobody wanted to accompany with me after my fifth viewing. So, my mom came home raving about this film, how funny it was, how clever, how much she wants to make Bill Nighy my step-daddy (just kidding.) etc. etc. so … more
Over the last few years Hollywood has produced a number of films that I like to call "soundtracks to life". The teen generation recently had Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist. Some people may not agree with me on this, but I feel that Adventureland was homage to classics of the 70s, and this weekend we get the wild adveture that Pirate Radio takes the audience on. It's a picture that brings laughs from start to finish. Pirate Radio tells the story of a … more
Great ensemble piece! This mosaic of great acting and interesting personalities kept me glued and wanting more. Bill Nighy and Nick Frost as well as Rhys Ifans stood out in this outstanding cast. Kevin Branagh was so immersed in his character that he was unrecognizable as the posh, yet devious villain.
I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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Rock and roll will live forever – but can it float?
Pirate Radio is the newest ensemble comedy from filmmaker Richard Curtis (screenwriter of Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill, and writer/director of Love Actually), spinning the irreverent yet fact-based tale of a seafaring band of rogue rock and roll deejays whose “pirate radio” captivated and inspired 1960s Britain. Playing the music that rocked a nation and a decade, the group boldly and hilariously defies the government that tries to shut them down.
Broadcasting live 24/7 from an old tanker anchored in the middle of the North Sea (just beyond British jurisdiction), Radio Rock sends out a vibrant and unifying signal to millions across the nation, ranging in age from wide-eyed pre-teens secretly tuning in long past their bedtimes to everyday people in need of a musical pick-me-up. The Radio Rock roster, overseen by unflappable station owner (and ship’s captain) Quentin (Bill Nighy), includes a risk-prone American known only as The Count (Philip Seymour Hoffman); mystic deejay royalty Gavin (Rhys Ifans); slyly amorous Dave (Nick Frost); idiosyncratic New Zealander Angus (Rhys Darby); the rarely seen Bob (Ralph Brown); the aptly named Thick Kevin (Tom Brooke); lovelorn Simon (Chris O’Dowd); ladies’ magnet Mark (Tom Wisdom); shy Harold (Ike Hamilton); reporter News John (Will Adamsdale); and lesbian ship’s cook Felicity (Katherine Parkinson). One night in 1966, ...