Movie #30: Pirate Radio

Originally titled “The Boat That Rocked” in the UK, Pirate Radio was a very surprising movie. For one, it has a cast populated with many of the biggest names in recent British comedy — you may not recognize them, but you should. The list includes: non-Brits Philip Seymour Hoffman (not always a funny guy, but an amazing actor) from the U.S. and Rhys Darby (who played the lovably uptight Murray on Flight of the Conchords) from New Zealand; Bill Nighy (who’s appeared in so many things including Love Actually, and Pirates of the Caribbean 3 — he was Davy Jones); Nick Frost (from Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead); Katherine Parkinison and Chris O’Dowd (who play Jen and Roy on the sitcom The IT Crowd); and Rhys Ifans (who played Hugh Grant’s roommate Spike in Notting Hill). The movie was also written and directed by one of my favourites, Richard Curtis, whose work pretty much comprises the British rom-com that I enjoy: Four Weddings, both Bridget Joneses, Love Actually, Bean, and of course, Notting Hill. Under Curtis’s guidance this cast comes together quite well as a group of fictional DJs working for a pirate radio station in the UK of 1966. To escape the limits imposed by broadcasting regulations of the time, the station broadcast pop and rock music from a ship out in the North Sea. About half the population of Britain tuned into the station, but still the government/BBC wanted to shut them down. Kenneth Branagh (looking a bit Hitler-esque) plays the villainous politician and Jack Davenport (last seen on the gone-but-not-forgotten TV series FlashForward) plays his pet bureaucrat. Together they twirl their moustaches while plotting to bring down pirate radio. Most of the movie is a collection of scenes of dudes bonding against an obvious backdrop of rock music, occasionally getting some attention from the opposite sex (some dudes more than others). I enjoyed watching the camaraderie, but was far from captivated. However, the last one quarter of the movie takes a very surprising turn and it became not only a wonderfully feel-good ending, but quite thrilling as well. (4 out of 5, including extra credit for Emma Thompson’s cameo)

30 down, 20 to go!

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