Release Date: November 13th, 2009
Click here for the Pirate Radio Trailer.
Carl(Tom Sturridge) is a hopeful youth who arrives on the pirate radio ship Radio Rock after his mother sends him there to stay with his godfather and owner of the rock station Quentin(Bill Nighy). Carl has been sent to the ship after being expelled from school in the hopes that the change of life will put him on a straighter path in life. However, Carl quickly realizes, with the help of the Radio Rock crew that the boat is probably the worst place for him to get set right.
On the boat, Carl meets the ramshackle crew of Radio Rock led by The Count(Phillip Seymour Hoffman), a boisterous DJ from America who lives and breathes rock and roll. Along with The Count is all around suave Dr. Dave(Kevin Frost) and the lovable but naive Breakfast DJ Simon(Chris O'Dowd). There is also crazy Angus "The Knut" Knutsford(Rhys Darby), mysterious ladies man Midnight Mark(Tom Wisdom) and the reclusive and drug induced late-night DJ Smooth Bob(Ralph Brown). On board with the DJs is the ships only female resident, the shy and lesbian cook Felicity(Katherine Parkinson) and radio assistants news reader John(Will Adamsdale), Harold(Ike Hamilton) and "Thick Kevin"(Tom Broke) who is also Carl's roommate.
As soon as Carl arrives on the ship, the quest for a straight and narrow path is thrown out the window when Dave attempts to give Carl his "first time" with a woman. However, Dave's plan fails miserably. The shenanigans continues when The Count attempts to be the first DJ ever to say the "F" word on the radio. As he is about to say it, Quentin interrupts and tells him he can't say it. As the two argue over saying it, while saying it multiple times in the argument, The Count "accidentally" leaves the microphone on allowing the listeners to not only hear it, but hear it no less than 6 times.
Word of the pirate radio ship soon reaches the ears of Minister Dormandy(Kenneth Branagh) who despises the group claiming that they are an abomination. Dormandy is immediately tasked by the Prime Minister(Stephen Moore) to disband Radio Rock. Dormandy enlists the help of civil servant Twatt(Jack Davenport) to find a way to cancel the ships radio station permanently. Twatt's first attempt to shut the station down consisted of making it illegal to buy advertising space on the station, essentially depriving the ship of funds. The plan failed and Twatt was forced to find a new method.
In the meantime, Carl's misadventures on the ship continue. His attempts at love fail again when Quentin brings his niece, Marianne(Talulah Riley) on board. As Carl is scouring the ship for a condom, Dr. Dave swoops in and beds Marianne before Carl gets back. In an attempt to bring more funds to the ship, Quentin hires famed DJ and noted "king of the airwaves" Gavin(Rhys Ifans) who comes out of retirement to help the ship. Gavin immediately causes competition between himself and The Count. However, Gavin's trouble doesn't stop there. Simon decides that he wants to marry his girlfriend Elenore(January Jones) who literally seems to good to be true. The day after their wedding, Elenore reveals to Simon that the only reason she married him was because she really loved Gavin and, since Gavin didn't believe in marriage, she had to marry Simon to be on the boat with him. Simon immediately divorces Elenore and The Count calls out Gavin to a game of chicken saying he isn't a man. The two climb up to the top of the ships mast and then both jump off into the waters below. After sustaining serious injury, the two call a truce.
As the months roll by, Carl continues to be a part of the crew, thinking he is still there to get set straight until Kevin, in an unusual moment of insightful thinking, determines that the only reason Carl is really on the boat is to find out who his real father is, considering the two have never met. Kevin and Carl immediately believe it to be Quentin. When Carl's mother Charlotte(Emma Thompson) arrives on the boat for Christmas, Carl asks her if Quentin is his father only for her to deny it. As Carl's mother prepares to leave, Carl gives her a message from Smooth Bob that said "Muddy Water rocks". This message leads to Carl discovering that Smooth Bob is his real father.
Still unable to shut the ship down, Twatt stumbles upon a newspaper article stating that a fishing boats distress signal was unable to be picked up due to the powerful radio waves from the Radio Rock ship. Twatt sees this as an opportunity ban pirate radio for good and he proposes the creation of the Marine Offenses Act which passes through Parliament unopposed. However, Radio Rock refuses to shut down and continues broadcasting. Infuriated, Dormandy and Twatt send out a fleet of boats into the North Sea to board and arrest every member of the ship but when they arrive at the location of the boat, all they find is a fishing vessel. The pirate radio ship has fired up its old engines and set sail however the strain of moving was too much for the engines to take and they backfire creating a hole in the boat and the boat begins to sink.
The DJs and crew make their way to the upper deck as The Count agrees to continue broadcasting until physically unable to do so. He reveals their position in the hopes that somebody will come to help them, even Twatt and his police. However, Dormandy refuses to allow Twatt to send any boats out and orders them to let the boat sink. But, despite Dormandy's refusal to help, hundreds of boats captained by dire fans of the station arrive in time to save the DJs and crew before the boat sinks, with The Count emerging from the depths at the last second.
If you are a fan of British comedy or a fan of early British rock and roll, then Pirate Radio is your kind of movie. Being a fan of the aforementioned, I thought this movie looked pretty good when I saw the first trailers for it. First off, the film had an amazing cast with such stars as Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Rhys Ifans, Kenneth Branagh and Bill Nighy and some excellent supporting players like Rhys Darby and Nick Frost. Newcomer Tom Sturridge impressed me a great deal portraying Carl. I like Sturridge's performance. He really made a character you can connect with as an audience and he also added a sense of sanity amongst the insane crew and DJs on the boat.
The film itself, being set in the comedy genre, provided many genuine laughs with some outright laughable humor mixed with a nice blend of subtle humor as well. This movie was originally made as a British ensemble comedy film released in the United Kingdom as The Boat That Rocked so the humor in it has a different spin on it than we are used to in America. British humor varies ever so slightly from American humor and the British humor in this film may be refreshing to many audiences. All of the actors added their own spice to the film. Hoffman did an excellent job but he wasn't alone as all the actors were funny and enjoyable, even the villain performances in Branagh and Davenport were funny, especially with the pun on Davenport's character name of "Twatt".
If soundtracks and music is what gets you in movies, then you are going to love Pirate Radio. For me, the music in a film is an essential part in setting the tone and mood in a film. This film has one of the coolest soundtracks incorporating classic rock from the 60's with such amazing artists as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who among many many others. The music puts you in this rebellious mood making you want to jump on the ship and defy those twats in Parliament yourself.
Overall I really enjoyed this film. While it isn't a stand out movie that can be tossed up there with some of the other blockbusters coming out like 2012 and New Moon, it is still one you should see. A film to see in theaters if you truly love this style and genre and definitely one to rent if you are in the mood for a good comedy. That's why I give Pirate Radio 7 renegade radio rock boats out of 10.
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