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Pirate Radio (The Boat That Rocked) (2009)



Average Rating: 5.6/10
Reviews Counted: 157
Fresh: 95 | Rotten: 62

The good cast and rollicking soundtrack eventually drown when this comic homage to pirate radio loses its quippy steam.


Average Rating: 5.1/10
Critic Reviews: 36
Fresh: 19 | Rotten: 17

The good cast and rollicking soundtrack eventually drown when this comic homage to pirate radio loses its quippy steam.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.1/5
User Ratings: 266,278

My Rating

Movie Info

In mid- to late-'60s Britain, an unusual yet colorful subculture sprang up and thrived as a product of the upswing in British pop music, only to meet its doom within a few short years. Though the BBC functioned as the country's main source of news and music, its programmers offered very little airtime to rock & roll -- which left an overwhelming need unfulfilled. In response, small bands of "pirate" radio enthusiasts set up broadcasting towers on boats just outside of English boundary waters,


Drama, Romance, Musical & Performing Arts, Comedy

Richard Curtis

Apr 13, 2010


Focus Features - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (157) | Top Critics (36) | Fresh (95) | Rotten (62) | DVD (8)

Curtis's movie is loosely based on the historical truths of the time, but it isn't meant as a documentary, a rockumentary, or even a docucomedy. It's just a hell of a lot of fun.

November 22, 2009 Full Review Source: | Comment (1)
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It just sits there in the water.

November 16, 2009 Full Review Source: At the Movies
At the Movies
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Any serious music fan -- that is anyone who sees the radio pirates as kindred spirits -- will be outraged by its sloppy approach to the history of rock and roll.

November 16, 2009 Full Review Source: At the Movies | Comments (6)
At the Movies
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Forty years ago, they couldn't get these songs on the radio; now we can't get them off.

November 13, 2009 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail | Comments (5)
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Richard Curtis's comedy is anchored only in exuberance, but that's more than you can say for most movies these days; it keeps you beaming with pleasure.

November 13, 2009 Full Review Source: Wall Street Journal | Comment (1)
Wall Street Journal
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Pirate Radio, the new rock-saturated comedy that proves life really is better when it's set to a '60s soundtrack, is, to borrow from the Stones, "a gas! gas! gas!"

November 13, 2009 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times | Comment (1)
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It is a great cast and the perfect one for a group of oddballs such as this. If only the script had been able to match the caliber of the acting, there might have been a really special film here.

September 25, 2012 Full Review Source:

thinly drawn plot, thinner characters

January 31, 2011 Full Review Source: Las Vegas CityLife

Comedy flounders in a sea of mediocrity.

January 2, 2011 Full Review Source:

No morals, no shame and good music; who wouldn't want to climb aboard Radio Rock?

August 14, 2010 Full Review Source:

Curtis has a knack for drawing credible names to his projects, and with this ensemble of talented character actors all playing to their strengths, The Boat That Rocked proves to be an entertaining, if not restless rock 'n' roll romp on the high seas.

July 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Matt's Movie Reviews
Matt's Movie Reviews

... a perfectly enjoyable comedy that never strays beyond its playlist of colorful personalities and comic antics.

April 18, 2010 Full Review Source:

The movie's far more about the camaraderie between the DJs and the love of music that's shared between them and their listeners than it is about their struggle to stay on the air.

January 20, 2010 Full Review Source:

Curtis' crew, although piloting a fairly flimsy vessel, plot-wise, sure knows how to have fun, armed as they are with one of the most memorable classic-rock sound tracks this side of Forrest Gump.

December 11, 2009 Full Review Source: Times-Picayune

the sort of ensemble comedy in which each member of the ensemble tends toward one-dimensionality but it's mostly OK because there are so many members, and they're all so talented.

December 10, 2009 Full Review Source: Sacramento News & Review
Sacramento News & Review

Overstates the Establishment-vs.-youth culture impact of Britain's real-life offshore radio stations...

December 9, 2009 Full Review Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

Fun, fun, fun until the Prime Minister takes the T-Bird away.

December 1, 2009 Full Review Source: Monsters and Critics | Comment (1)
Monsters and Critics

It seems like an unstoppable premise, and yet Curtis's film feels strangely anchored in the port: lots of activity on board but no forward motion.

December 1, 2009 Full Review Source: Movieline

The end credits display a wide array of classic album covers -- from Bob Dylan to U2, The Clash to Tom Waits. That reveals what's at the movie's heart: A love for rock 'n' roll.

November 30, 2009 Full Review Source: Christianity Today
Christianity Today

Ensembles are tough, but I now feel safer in Richard Kurtis' hands than any other director, especially when he brings along a pile of British talent.

November 26, 2009 Full Review Source: The Scorecard Review
The Scorecard Review

The film's a lot like a good rock song: not overly deep, but a lot of fun and you can dance to it.

November 22, 2009 Full Review Source:

Pirate Radio misses cues but doesn't run completely aground.

November 20, 2009 Full Review Source: Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA)
Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA)

... [it] will have you humming along and leave you with a big smile, something that can be said of few movies this year.

November 19, 2009 Full Review Source: New England Movies Weekly
New England Movies Weekly

Pirate Radio leaves out any mention of the usual historical and cultural background, say, sex as a potential means of mixing races and classes.

November 19, 2009 Full Review Source: PopMatters | Comments (2)

Grudgingly irresistible

November 19, 2009 Full Review Source: I.E. Weekly
I.E. Weekly

Audience Reviews for Pirate Radio (The Boat That Rocked)

Dispite a screenplay full of flaws, The Boat That Rocked, bring a great soundtrack and comic cast.
July 18, 2013
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer

I liked The Boat that Rocked but I also hated it. It is too long and story-wise, a bit of a mess. That said, I liked the idea and the cast is great with some very funny performances. I just wish Richard Curtis would have given the idea to someone else to make. Firstly, it gives a very wrong account of the real story. My parents used to talk of Radio Caroline with great fondness and it would have been great to hear the true story. Also, the Marine Offences Act was passed for very good reason, not because the government didn't like Rock and Roll. It was past by Tony Benn, who I have the utmost respect for, he is hardly the Conservative character that Kenneth Branagh portrayed in the film. For one thing, he was and still is, a Labour man. It's these stupid inaccuracies and tweaks that really annoy me, it makes for a good film sure but there is already a good film in the true story, don't be so lazy and do some homework. Did I mention that I can't stand Richard Curtis?
June 5, 2013

Super Reviewer

Add this too the long list of films that endeavor mightily to capture the soul of rock and roll only to prostitute the admittedly bad old girl shamelessly. Cue the classics of yore, present cast et al "grooving to the beat", and cut to credits. Better to light one up, reheat the lava lamp and put on some Floyd.
May 30, 2013

Super Reviewer

A group of - for lack of a better term - frat boy disc jockeys play rock 'n' roll off the coast of Britain despite the efforts of prissy lawmakers.
Richard Curtis, the most estrogen-laden man this side of Angel from Rent, has made a bro-tacular love letter to classic rock. Much like Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous, Pirate Radio stacks classic rock song upon classic rock song in a party of a film. It's a fun ride, and Kenneth Brannagh plays a great villain of the uptight, stick-up-one's-arse variety. The performances are all jovial, and it's clear the actors had a blast making the film.
However, I didn't like the ending, saccharine and unbelievable, and the depiction of women. All of the women were masculinized lesbians or fangirls who jump into bed at a wink or a well-placed "how 'bout it then?" The females, without exception, serve as objects of male desire without character arcs of their own. What is more, even after meeting Emma Thompson's character, it's hard to imagine her sending her son to this boat for any type of reformation.
Overall, though, I enjoyed the film immensely, caught up as I was in its celebration of music.
January 7, 2013
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

    1. Quentin: Believe me, they'll find a way. Governments loathe people being free.
    – Submitted by Jillian L (17 months ago)
    1. Minister Dormandy: You see, that's the whole point of being the government. If you don't like something you simply make up a new law that makes it illegal.
    – Submitted by Jillian L (17 months ago)
    1. Dave: So tell us Mark, now at the very end - what was your secret? How did you get all them girls?
    2. Mark: Simple. Don't say anything at all.
    3. Carl: Nothing?
    4. Mark: Nothing. Then, when the tension becomes too much to bear, you finally, finally, you just say: 'How about it, then?'
    – Submitted by Emma T (2 years ago)
    1. The Count: I plan on broadcasting from this boat till the day I die... and a few days after that.
    – Submitted by Daniel R (2 years ago)
    1. Quentin: Spectacular mistake.
    – Submitted by Amalia W (2 years ago)
    1. Thick Kevin: I find that alcohol rather sharpens my mind.
    – Submitted by Anya S (3 years ago)
View all quotes (8)

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