Pirate Radio (The Boat That Rocked)

2009

Pirate Radio (The Boat That Rocked)

Critics Consensus

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

62%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 162
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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, and transmitted signals to an estimated 25 million listeners, 24 hours a day and seven days per week. Unsurprisingly, the DJs who took charge of these broadcasts could rival just about anyone in terms of flamboyance and outsized personalities. With Pirate Radio (released as The Boat That Rocked in the U.K.), writer-director Richard Curtis (Love Actually) travels back to the Swinging Sixties and takes a headfirst plunge into this colorful realm. The story opens in 1966, aboard a rusty fishing trawler christened Radio Rock and equipped with pirate broadcasting equipment. Here, the slightly daft elitist Quentin (Bill Nighy) presides over a motley crew of joint-toking, sex-hungry disc jockeys including Dave (Nick Frost), a heavyset boob who nevertheless considers himself a hot property with women and loves to chase skirts; "The Count" (Philip Seymour Hoffman), an American DJ who aspires to be the first person to drop an F-bomb over the British airwaves; the gloom-laden Irishman Simon (Chris O'Dowd); bonked-out hipster Thick Kevin (Tom Brooke); womanizer Mark (Tom Wisdom); Angus (Rhys Darby), a New Zealander whom nobody likes; and the only female member of the group, lesbian cook Felicity (Katherine Parkinson). These misfits pull off quite a show -- enough of one that they attain the status of national idols for the youth culture -- but the super-conservative government minister Dormandy (Kenneth Branagh) detests the whole business and will do almost anything in his power to shut them down.

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Cast

Bill Nighy
as Quentin
Kenneth Branagh
as Minister Dormandy
January Jones
as Eleonore
Michael Hadley
as Mr. Roberts
Lucy Fleming
as Mrs. Roberts
Tom Brooke
as Thick Kevin
Talulah Riley
as Marianne
Emma Thompson
as Charlotte
Will Adamsdale
as News John
Stephen Moore
as Prime Minister
Bo Poraj
as Fredericks
Amanda Fairbank-Hynes
as Jemima Dormandy
Francesca Longrigg
as Mrs. Dormandy
David Sterne
as Marianne's Captain
Olegar Fedoro
as Rock Boat Captain
Duncan Foster
as Swedish Crewman
Ian Mercer
as Transfer Boatman
William Ilkley
as Commanding Officer
Edward Hancock
as Policeman
Katie Lyons
as Angus' Boat Girl
Kirsty Mather
as John's Boat Girl
Lana Davidson
as Simon's T-Shirt Girl
Tomas Andrisiunas
as Swedish Crewman
Gudmundur Audunsson
as Swedish Crewman
Kris Gummerus
as Swedish Crewman
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