Pirate Radio

Pirate Radio

4.4 7
Director: Richard Curtis

Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Rhys Ifans

     
 

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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… See more details below

Overview

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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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
In the mid-'60s, the BBC more or less refused to play rock & roll over the airwaves, and since they controlled all of British radio at the time, that meant the teenagers and hip adults couldn't hear tracks by such soon-to-be-legendary bands as the Rolling Stones, the Who, and the Kinks. In response, a number of enterprising businesspeople anchored boats just a few miles off the British coast, and broadcast the banned music 24 hours a day back to the mainland. These became known as "pirate radio" stations, and such a colorful piece of history would seem to provide a wealth of rich material for a British writer and director as talented as Richard Curtis. The movie opens with the recently expelled Carl (Tom Sturridge) arriving at Radio Rock, one of the most popular pirate radio stations in all of London. Carl's godfather, Quentin (Bill Nighy), who owns the boat and the station, gives the young man a job and shy Carl soon meets the outlandish DJs who make Radio Rock a must-listen for kids on shore. Among the motley crew members are "The Count" (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the lone American on the ship and a true believer in the power and glory of the music; the horny, chunky Dave (Nick Frost); the quiet, impossibly handsome Mark (Tom Wisdom); and the drugged-out proto-hippie Bob (Ralph Brown). The group keeps things lively with lots of shenanigans, including the Count's efforts to say the F-word on the air, their intricate schemes to get Carl laid, and the creative ways in which the crew fights back against the sustained efforts of a repressed government bureaucrat (Kenneth Branagh) to wipe out all the pirate stations. In his previous films, Curtis has shown a masterful ability to juggle large ensembles. Four Weddings and a Funeral and Love Actually burst with three-dimensional characters that have distinct arcs -- they grow and change no matter how little screen time they might get. And that's what's missing entirely from Pirate Radio. With the exception of Carl -- who, it turns out, got on the ship because he believes the father he never met works there -- everybody in the film is a personality rather than a person. Of course, Curtis is too talented to not serve up some funny moments with each of them -- the remarkable stupidity of Carl's roommate is a first-rate recurring gag, as is the simmering feud between the Count and Gavin (Rhys Ifans), a once-legendary DJ who makes an unexpected return to Radio Rock. Unfortunately, because these characters never become three-dimensional, the movie turns out to be a series of incidents rather than an actual story. To put it in rock terms, Pirate Radio is a collection of songs rather than a coherent album -- and while there are a couple of good tracks, the majority of them are unremarkable.

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Product Details

Release Date:
04/13/2010
UPC:
0025195052351
Original Release:
2009
Rating:
R
Source:
Focus Features
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sound:
[DTS 5.1-Channel Surround Sound, Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Time:
1:57:00
Sales rank:
28,748

Special Features

Deleted scenes; Featurettes; Feature commentary with director Richard Curtis, producer Hilary Bevan Jones and actors Nick Frost and Chris O'Dowd

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Philip Seymour Hoffman The Count
Bill Nighy Quentin
Rhys Ifans Gavin
Nick Frost Dave
Kenneth Branagh Minister Dormandy
January Jones Elenore,Eleonore
Tom Sturridge Carl
Jack Davenport Twatt
Ralph Brown Bob
Chris O'Dowd Simon
Tom Brooke Thick Kevin
Rhys Darby Angus
Will Adamsdale John
Katherine Parkinson Felicity
Emma Thompson Charlotte
Tom Wisdom Mark
Talulah Riley Marianne
Gemma Arterton Desiree
Ike Hamilton Harold
Olivia Llewellyn Margaret
Michael Hadley Mr. Roberts
Lucy Fleming Mrs. Roberts
Amanda Fairbank-Hynes Jemima Dormandy
Francesca Longrigg Mrs. Domrandy
Charlie Rowe James
Sinead Matthews Miss C
Stephen Moore Prime Minister
Olegar Fedorov Rock Boat Captain
David Sterne Marianne's Captain
Bo Poraj Fredericks
Michael Thomas Sandford
William Ilkley Commanding Officer
Ian Mercer Transfer Boatman
Gudmundur Audunsson Swedish Crewman
Tomas Andrisiunas Swedish Crewman
Kris Gummerus Swedish Crewman
Duncan Foster Swedish Crewman
Katie Lyons Angus' Boat Girl
Kirsty Mather John's Boat Girl
Lana Davidson Simon's T-Shirt Girl
Edward Hancock Policeman
Sarah Forster Model
Poppy Delevingne Model
Ocean Moon Model
Tuuli Shipster Model

Technical Credits
Richard Curtis Director,Executive Producer,Screenwriter
Nick Angel Musical Direction/Supervision
Tim Bevan Producer
Christine Blundell Makeup
Thomas Brown Art Director
Liza Chasin Executive Producer
Danny Cohen Cinematographer
Eric Fellner Producer
Emma Freud Associate Producer
Debra Hayward Executive Producer
Emma E. Hickox Editor
Ben Howarth Asst. Director
Joanna Johnston Costumes/Costume Designer
Hilary Bevan Jones Producer
Mark Tildesley Production Designer
Ronaldo Vasconcellos Co-producer
Ian Voigt Sound Mixer
Fiona Weir Casting
Hans Zimmer Score Composer

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