Pirate Radio (The Boat That Rocked) Reviews
Over 40 years ago, a rebellion against the government-sanctioned monopoly on incomprehensibly jazz favourable BBC radio was teetering. Pirate radio stations from Germany and France broadcasted Rock and Roll bringing with it distension from the powers but nothing could be done due to international law...
However in 1964, anchored one mile outside the UK's international waters line, the first fully English speaking station Radio Caroline took to the air. Streaming 24/7 and captivating over 25 million eager listeners by 1966, trash talking, morally lose and uncensored DJ's paved the way to free listening for an entire generation.
This is that elusive wonderfully fun and interesting film I have been waiting for, who would have believed it would come in the form of a baby boomers nostalgia comedy that pays homage to the wild days of British pirate radio?
Loosely based on Radio Caroline, The boat that rocked is that truly fun and wonderful film that has evaded me these last few months. It is a simple, fun and delightfully embellished story frivolously stretching its poetic licence to create an joyously entertaining story.
This outrageous nostalgia comedy pays homage to the baby boomers and the pioneering wild days of British pirate radio. The relatable topic opens the door for baby boomers and generation Y's to actually enjoy the same film at the same time.
When virginal college student Carl (Tom Sturridge) is expelled from school, his somewhat misguided mother (Emma Thompson, who sadly only had a very small role) sends him to live with his godfather Quentin (Bill Nighy) an eccentric radio station boss who after doing too many drug for too many years seems to be missing a decade (not the smartest move mum).
Anchored just outside international waters on a rusty old fishing trawler, Quentin and his boat full of dope-smoking, sex starved vinyl-spinners illegally broadcast Britain's first complete rock and roll radio station, RADIO ROCK!.
Amongst the bizarre eclectic crew is 'tubby Dave' (Nick Frost) who fancies himself as a ladies' man (poor deluded soul); spacey 'Thick Kevin' (Tom Brooke); melancholy Irishman Simon (Chris O'Dowd); silent Fabio 'Midnight Mark' (Tom Wisdom); the only permanent female aboard, lesbian Felicity (Katherine Parkinson) and 'the Count' (Oscar winner Phillip Seymour Hoffman) a big brash Yank who wants to be the first person to ever use the f word on British radio.
When the radio station begins to publicise 'the Count's' intentions, Government intervention and termination is imminent. Believing the station is leading society into anarchy and depravity, fanatically traditional Minister Dormandy (Kenneth Branagh) with the help of his assistant Twatt (Jack Davenport) are out for blood against the drug takers and lawbreakers of a once-great nation.
Brought back to further stir the pot to boiling point both on the boat and off is perverted DJ extraordinaire Gavin (Ryhs Infans), known for his ability to introduce the music whilst making sweet love to the microphone. Is Dormandy the only one hell bent on ending Radio Rock or are the boats inhabitants determined to drive on their own collision course?
Although there is a distinct lack of coherent storyline and the film is uncharacteristically long for the genre, who really cares? Time and story are irrelevant when the score featuring the Kinks, the Hollies, the Who and Hendrix (just to name a few) with their encompassing trailblazing songs even young moviegoers recognisable (people literally broke into spontaneous song, regardless of others protests).
Reminiscent of classic British TV sitcoms, romcom director Richard Curtis (Love actually, Noting Hill) brings together one of the longest and strongest wonderful ensemble cast. Not only are there too many to mention, but none seem to get enough screen time.
As usual I took some companions to the viewing, this time my mother and father. As both are British and were 15 during the time of Radio Caroline's peak, it was delightfully relevant and so close to their recollections of the time. The opening montage with dozens of snapshots of 60's Britain with teens trying to be heard listening to hidden under pillows transistor radio's rekindled their distant memories.
Verdict: If you have ever tried to understand your baby boomer parents but just couldn't get hip to their jiggy, see this film. I have never understood more, or realised just how cool oldies can be. My advice, call mum or dad and go have some fun "All day and all of the night".
Published: The Queanbeyan Age
Date of Publication: 17/04/2009