Pirate Radio (The Boat That Rocked) Reviews

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Super Reviewer
November 26, 2009
I kinda see this as a companion piece to the earlier British comedy 'Still Crazy', or they could exist in same universe at least. As for the title I think the US version is much better really, the original UK title is a bit of a mouth full, mind you other Euro versions are quite radical also. In France its called 'Good Morning England' which is quite the rip-off frankly, in Germany its 'Radio Rock Revolution' and in Italy its 'I Love Radio Rock'. So all in all this movie has the most title changes ever it seems...all of which are actually better than the original UK one I think.

The quaint little story here is straight forward, back in the 60's rock and pop was frowned upon by the stale old crusty stiff upper lipped British government. A government that is still clearly set in the 50's and wasn't ready or willing to accept the free flowing hippie movement and its drastic changes. During this time pirate radio stations were set up to play tunage that was considered not cricket, but to avoid British law these musical rebels set up shop in the North Sea away from land-set restrictions and out of reach. Although inspired by real pirate radio stations of the time this fictional story sees a group of ragtag DJ's on a rusty old trawler blasting the UK with dangerous rock n roll. At the same time the dastardly Kenneth Branagh and his sidekick are trying their upmost to shut them down.

The plot is actually quite similar to 'Still Crazy' with the basic premise of a young man joining a group of older men to go on a wild immature adventure of sorts. In 'Still Crazy' a young man joins the band, here a young man joins the radio crew, both films focusing on all of the characters giving us multiple subplots. As you can imagine all of these little character driven stories revolve around the simple issues of sex, booze, relationships, having a good time and battling against the establishment. Each character has their own little quirk that is pretty predictable and highly cliched in a typically rude crass British kind of way, nothing wrong with that of course, you expect it right from the start but its seen in virtually every British comedy.

Apparently you simply cannot make a British comedy without Bill Nighy and here he plays the same type of rigid character yet again. Rhys Ifans plays another slimy creepy generally unlikable character, Nick Frost plays...errr...the fat bloke...again, and then pad out the rest with various familiar faces which most Brits will recognise in some form or another but everyone else won't. The only real breath of fresh air in this cast is Hoffman as the rebellious brash US DJ which gives the film a sense of 'Good Morning Vietnam' vs traditional British toilet humour...at times.

The establishment that is trying to ruin everyone's fun is played in its entirety by Kenneth Branagh, a strict headmaster-esque government minister who thinks rock n roll is corrupting young minds. His sidekick played by Jack Davenport is surprisingly not a half wit as you might expect but a clever devious subordinate who digs up legal loopholes. Together these two make a reasonably fun pair of bad guys (not really bad of course) and do offer most of the entertainment character wise. Sure it might have been cliched to make them a bumbling pair of Laurel and Hardy types but maybe that might have worked in the films favour? None the less Branagh plays the sniveling jobsworth suit to a tee with his grovelling to the Prime Minister. Alas they did let everything down by naming Davenport's character Twatt...a totally lame and unfunny gag that seems rather childish, they couldn't think of anything better than that?!

By now I'm sure most of you must know what to expect with a comedy like this, all the usual Brit gags visual or otherwise, like I said its the same spiel in all UK comedy flicks (with almost the same cast). Being based on pirate radio of course this means the sexual innuendo gags are through the roof! add to that lots of frat house-like tomfoolery, soppy lovin' and a brief spot of nudity. What can I say, its silly and infantile but its still a good, warm-hearted relaxing flick with a solid soundtrack and a surprisingly semi-emotional finale. Its just not as funny as you'd like it to be.
Super Reviewer
½ January 28, 2012
Dispite a screenplay full of flaws, The Boat That Rocked, bring a great soundtrack and comic cast.
Super Reviewer
½ May 30, 2013
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.
Super Reviewer
January 7, 2013
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.
Directors Cat
Super Reviewer
½ August 15, 2011
The boat nearly sinks halfway through but it redeems itself with 60's culture refrences and pure comedic skill. It was likable and welcoming as I recieved an unusual feeling that I was there on the boat with them all those years ago.
Super Reviewer
January 28, 2012
Aww what a nice-ass movie. Nice-arse, excuse me.

It's all at once, a romantic bildungsroman, a triumphant battle of wills, a comedic slice-of-bro-life, and a love letter to rock and roll, as evidenced by the rip-roaring soundtrack and the stationary instead of scrolling text during the song credits :~P All the characters are zany, sexy, eccentric, and just so bloody likable!

There are a few implausibilities though (some pointed out on IMDb) like some anachronistic songs and The Count's miraculous resurfacing from the wreckage. The suction would have dragged him down!
Super Reviewer
August 31, 2009
Only the Brits can pull off a film with no real story arc, just carried by a dozen crazy but lovable characters, a wonderfully slimy opponent and a very unique and charming location. There is no real plot to this film about the rise of 1960s rock'n roll thanks to a British pirate radio station on a ship, except that a special person in the government wants to stop them. Kenneth Branagh actually channels Adolf Hitler as wonderfully narrow-minded politician, while the ship crew consists mostly of freaks who win our hearts in an instant. The soundtrack is accordingly excellent, with all the great hits of the time. And so we follow the crew through some naughty, funny, sometimes tragic adventures and have the time of our lives. Everyone involved clearly had fun making this film and it clearly shows and easily transfers to the viewer. It certainly wouldn't have needed the turn to more dramatic events, but the film is too smart to wallow in real drama for too long, even if it sometimes looks like it. In the end it's like watching Steve Zissou on crack: A film like a wild fun boat party. The idea to show some album covers of the best records of the last 50 years is just as awesome.
Super Reviewer
May 18, 2011
Too bad. It almost had me for a moment (thanks to the soundtrack), but in the end the coming of age story doesn't grab and is not funny enough. Only Bill Nighy and Kenneth Brannagh play interesting characters, the rest are forgettable, especially the lead.
Super Reviewer
September 25, 2010
It's style does not match the 60's to perfection, but the premise and the substance was brilliant. It is 2 hours of sex and rock & roll music, which is a great combination for a great time. The acting is great, the characters are great, and you actually care about the plot. Pirate Radio soars in it's genre with a stunning soundtrack and a believable scenario. I love this film, but it does lack the one thing it should have throughout, a good pace to keep you interested. I was interested for about and hour and a half, but for that hour and a half, I had a smile on my face. The ending is phenomenal and could not have played out any better than this. Pirate Radio Rocks!
Super Reviewer
½ December 13, 2010
I believe it was Wavy Gravy who first said "if you remember the 60's you weren't there". This homage to a time and place seemed to be scripted by a bunch of dudes hanging out and smoking weed; and yet, other than getting the munchies, I felt really good watching this film, even though it doesn't really go anywhere or have anything significant to say other than "long live Rock and Roll" (but I guess that's enough).

The story is a real one (although stretched to the absurd) - while Brit Rock and Roll was revolutionizing pop music, the stuffed shirts at the BBC (puppets for the conservative government) played NO rock music on the state radio (which eats up like 99% of the bandwidth). So, in order to get around the regulations, Pirate Radio stations set up in the North Sea,just outside the five mile territorial zone and broadcast the Kinks and Stones for everyone to hear.

On board the broadcast ship you have 8 deejays (each doing a three hour stint), a news and weather guy, an engineer,a cook and the owner/manager. They all hang out, get high, and dig on life and the music - that's pretty much the film in a nutshell.

Unfortunately the film glosses over the perfect storm aspect - with so much social unrest and rebellion against authority and the staid status quo, rock music, through its anthems to freedoms of all kinds (oh my god - let's spend the night together: blasphemy!!!) - galvanized what so very many people were feeling worldwide. Sadly, the film turns glib instead of pointed, and the polarization of we vs them (the man) is reduced to a cartoonish portrayal whose soul purpose is to garner laughs.

Those laughs are abundant however. From the ultra straight laced minestry buffoon, played with great gravitas by Kenneth Brannaugh, to the aristocratic yet free love advocating ship owner, wonderfully portrayed by Bill Nighy, as if he's channeling Peter O'Toole - the film boasts wonderful acting chops. However, since the story sticks to the superflous, it fails to be anything more than a hazy rememberence of a time, seen through rose colored glasses.

As Phillip Seymore Hoffman (typically wonderful) pronounces "I had a terrible thought that I just can't get out of my head... we are living in the best days of our lives". Indeed - the nostalgia quota is high here. I can remember being sent to bed where I had my transistor radio - spending an hour or so late each night listening to freedom on the radio.
Super Reviewer
September 13, 2010
I LOVED LOVED LOVED THIS MOVIE!!! This movie was the best I've seen in awhile, and definitely a new fave. It was the perfect combo of hilarity and nostalgia... rock and roll, coming of age, damning the man. I completely fell in love with all the characters, partly because of the script and partly because of the talented acting... the way they grow and develop in their relationships with each other makes me want to be best friends with them all. And of course, the soundtrack is rockin. I agree with some other reviews that the deleted scenes are great. It's a shame they weren't included in the actual movie. Definitely watch it. Definitely recommend it to friends. I can't believe it wasn't more well received!
Super Reviewer
September 19, 2010
Pirates & awesome Rock n Roll. What more can you ask for? Highly enjoyable, totally hillarious & dafty. I could watch it again, and again, and again, and again!
Super Reviewer
½ July 29, 2009
Can movie be great solely for its soundtrack? Pirate Radio's as close as it gets. Decent acting, interesting characters, all around solid ensemble work in this coming of age/social revolution story of the pioneers of UK rock radio. Kenneth Branagh is especially good, and yes, the music is great: the director uses all of the Who, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, the Band, the Kinks and more - 52 songs, in all - to their best usage, setting the sonic backdrop for the story. In the end it gets a little cheesy, wallking the line between ironic and over-the-top and momentarily falling over, but on the whole this is good film that I feel I could watch many times over in years to come.
Super Reviewer
½ April 5, 2009
Great music, appauling film!

I couldn't find anything likeable about it, despite liking a lot of the UK filled cast and even with the addition of Philip Seymour Hoffman, I had expected this to at least be a silly funny film, but it really didn't even begin to get the chuckle muscles moving
Super Reviewer
August 12, 2010
Have it, not seen it.
Super Reviewer
July 4, 2010
Like Almost Famous and High Fidelity, Pirate Radio (The Boat That Rocked) is a flm that is about, for, and celebrates rock n roll and its fans. Like Howard Stern's Private Parts, it's about expression, rebellion, and fighting those who say "NO!" And, unfortunately, while this films doesn't quite reach the level of greatness of those previously mentioned films, this one is nevertheless a rocking, entertaining, and fun ride.

I did kind of wish there would have been some more dramatic tension throughout, as what real tension that does exist doesn't come until the end, and in a jarring emotionally uneven way. It basically goes from fun to dead serious in too short a time span. Another gripe I have, (and this should be a deal breaker), is that the music that's featured rocks, but more than just a small amount of it is used anachronistically. Films set in 1966 shouldn't be playing stuff that come out after that, I don't care how awesome any of it is. Still though, my bias is such a strange one that I'm gonna give this film a pass anyway since the music does rock, and there are some really good sequences throughout, particularly the game of chicken set to Ennio Morricone.

I really liked the cast, (especially Ifans, Hoffman, Frost, and Nighy) and the fact that, even though the dramatic tension is mostly lacking and uneven, that the film was pretty easy on the plot. However, it would have been nice had the introduction showed how pirate rado got started instead of just telling so they could get right into the story. I'm glad this movie was made, as it tells a story that cinematically deserves to be told, but damn it should have been better.
Super Reviewer
June 9, 2010
Pirate Radio is about a group of 8 Dj's Illegally broadcasting a rock radio show from a ship anchored off the coast of Britain in the 1960's. The BBC back then strongly regulated Radio, and Station in Britain were not allowed to broadcast a single hour of Rock music. So pirate radio stations started popping up. This film is loosely based on those facts. As a former radio student, I absolutely adored this film. It's a film with charm, and camaraderie. The film is funny and is very enjoyable. I loved it. Sure, it's not accurate 100%, but who cares? it's a pleasant time waste, and as a former radio student, this film has my stamp of approval.
Super Reviewer
½ May 26, 2010
I know this movie is "based in truth" but I have no idea how much of it is accurate, as it seems to be a bit of a fantastical account. Nevertheless, it's a fun story about people who really loved rock and roll, and considering I do too, it was a good time.
Super Reviewer
½ July 5, 2009
Fun, charming, great cast, great music; yet unfocused and a tad overlong. PIRATE RADIO (The Boat that Rocked) had the potential to be a great film (a la Curtis' LOVE ACTUALLY), instead it's just a very good one.
Super Reviewer
November 9, 2009
Simply put, I loved this movie, every minute, every frame, every aspect. Is it perfect, not at all; but I really do not care. Richard Curtis is a complete master at making feel-good movies, and Pirate Radio does not fall flat in any way. It a way, I think we automatically think of movies like this as being "intelligent" films - for lack of a better word. It is a period piece and based on true material. As such, I just would not have expected anything this ... fun. There is not any depth or historical relevance. Instead we have incredible charisma. Simply put, movies come along far to infrequently that have both this degree of quailty and comedy. The music and style of absolutely amazing, but that seems to be the main emphasis of the marketting. Pirate Radio creates one of those worlds that you cannot help but want to live in, a world where everyone can wear leather pants and checked dresses. Just a exteamely fun and lovable movie from start to finish. It also deserves to be mentioned that the main "message" of the thing seemed to be "lets stick it to 'the man'" Come on, you know you love it.
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