Rated R for language, and some sexual content including brief nudity, 129 minutes
"Pirate Radio's" groovy, ficticious take on '60s UK pirate radio
"Pirate Radio" is a comedic look at what life was like on a 1960's U.K. pirate radio ship. Fun, well-cast but often pointless, there are a few inspired moments based on real events. Those familiar with '60's pirate radio in Britain may be disappointed that it plays pretty loose with what really happened (Britain never really "banned" rock music as the ads proclaim), but it's primary purpose is entertainment, and on that level it succeeds, highlighted by a groovy rock soundtrack full of tunes from the era.
"Pirate Radio" is an ensemble comedy that revolves around the romance between the young people of the '60s and pop music. It concerns band of rogue DJs that captivated Britain, playing the music that defined a generation and standing up to a government that somehow preferred jazz.
The large, colorful cast of characters includes: The Count (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a big, brash, American god of the airwaves; Quentin (Bill Nighy), the boss of Radio Rock -- a floating pirate radio station in the middle of the North Sea that's populated by an eclectic crew of rock and roll DJs; Gavin (Rhys Ifans), the greatest DJ in Britain who has just returned from his drug tour of America to reclaim his rightful position; Dave (Nick Frost), an ironic and funny co-broadcaster; and a fearsome British government official (Kenneth Branagh) out for blood against the drug takers and lawbreakers of a once-great nation.
"Pirate Radio" is bawdy, silly and often enjoyable entertainment that simply uses '60's British pirate radio as the backdrop. Very loosely based on Radio Caroline, a popular UK Pirate Radio station at the time, it's directed and written by "Love Actually's" Richard Curtis, and like that film, uses a large ensemble cast and fills it with a few storylines. Likable but thin, colorful but overlong, it lacks insight into the time period and the script isn't nearly as memorable as the rocking soundtrack full of 1960's British and American tunes, including the Stones, The Kinks, The Beach Boys, The Turtles and Jimi Hendrix and is "Pirate Radio's" chief highlight.
The huge, ensemble cast performs serviceably, with "Notting Hill's" Rhys Ifans the highlight as a cool-cat, womanizing DJ, with Nick Frost of "Shaun of the Dead" providing some genuinely funny moments as an overweight but intelligent DJ with a thing for the ladies. Branagh is a truly grumpy top British official trying to shut down the radio pirates, while as one of the few Yankees on the ship, Hoffman keeps up with his bawdy British counterparts very nicely. It's also fun to note that Nighy, who played a very bad pirate in "The Pirates of the Caribbean" films, plays a different sort of pirate here.
Amusing, silly fun, though it doesn't really amount to much, and know that this should not be taken as a serious, factual account of the time period, though one of the ships used in filming was indeed an actual pirate radio ship. "Pirate Radio" (also known as "The Boat That Rocked") goes on way too long and the merriment doesn't always keep the film afloat, but sit back and enjoy some of the fun and some nice, classic rock-n-roll tunes.