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Wick's Review

Created Nov 15, 2009 05:59PM PST • Edited Jun 01, 2019 10:04AM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Great 4.0

    Seventy percent LOL, a sly script and exuberant sex & drugs & rock & roll make Pirate Radio a highly entertaining movie. (To be fair, sex & drugs aren’t shown, just celebrated.) Redoubtable comedic auteur Richard Curtis bases his movie on real events, bringing it to life with a terrific ensemble and occasional flourishes of 60s-style absurdist filmmaking.

    Oh, and great music, natch. The Who dominate but are paced by the Stones, Hendrix, Procol Harum, Otis Redding, the Kinks, and the Neville Brothers to name a few.

  3. Very Good 3.5

    Impressive ensemble of misfits, studs, lustful hotties and outraged tight-asses.

    Misfits & Studs

    • The great Philip Seymour Hoffman in yet another fattie role. Nobody does it better.
    • Bill Nighy in yet another rock royalty role. Has-been rock star in Love Actually, he’s a radio guy here, though both roles call for the same addled panache.
    • Nick Frost as a porky asshole who uses his hipster DJ status to seduce girls. That’s him in the WikChip getting ready to “pull the plug” on Gemma Aterton’s groupie.
    • Tom Wisdom as a Jimmy Page lookalike who’s hilariously pithy with his utterances.
    • Rhys Ifans as the overtly sexual “King of the Airwaves.” Comically spindly and unattractive in Notting Hill, Ifans comes across here as surpassingly virile. The guy can act.
    • Ralph Brown as a balding DeadHead DJ whose flight from reality comes to a sweet end.
    • Katherine Parkinson as the lesbian cook who gets her own groupie.
    • Tom Sturridge as the pretty boy through whose eyes we learn about the whole dubious undertaking. Sturridge is said to be good friends with Twilight star Robert Pattinson. One wonders if the police need to limit the number of girls allowed in the vicinity of these two heartthrobs?

    Lustful Hotties

    • January Jones as a groupie who won’t let a little thing like marriage get between her and the object of her affection. Mrs. Betty Draper has never looked more luscious.
    • Talulah Riley as a one-and-only dream girl.
    • Emma Thompson as an extremely well presented MILF. Rarely has a great hairdo, high collared jacket, and sunglasses worked more attractively than here. Thompson is like the British Glen Close: She can play hot or cold, gorgeous or plain, but always self-possessed.
    • The aforementioned Gemma Aterton as the most prominent of a boatful of groupies.

    Outraged Tight-asses

    • Kenneth Branagh as a parody of a snooty government minister, increasingly hilarious as his schemes are flouted.
    • Jack Davenport as a mid-level government functionary with a very funny name. Between this role and his Commodore Norrington from Pirates of the Caribbean, Davenport is making a career out of playing comical bad guys from the British government.
  4. Male Stars Great 4.0

    Hoffman, Nighy, Frost, Ifans, Sturridge, Branagh

  5. Female Stars Very Good 3.5

    Riley and Parkinson

  6. Female Costars Great 4.0

    Jones was very good. Thompson was really great.

  7. Male Costars Very Good 3.5

    Davenport, et. al.

  8. Great 4.0

    Writer-director Richard Curtis creates lump-in-your-throat comedies as well as anyone, here using romantic treachery and a titanic turn-of-fortune for the ship itself to brace the humor with pathos. He’s proven time and again to be a master of this sort of thing, as in Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill.

  9. Direction Great 4.0

    The crew’s reception for an arriving bride perfectly recalls Richard Lester-like videos from The Beatles and others.

  10. Play Great 4.0

    The sly script deftly doles out one surprising turnabout after another, most of them of a romantic or sexual nature. “Who’s your Daddy?” never gets literally asked, but it certainly gets answered time and again. Other brilliantly funny surprises emerge from a ribald game of truth-or-dare and in odd conversations around the mess table.

    Being British, there are funny names like “Twatt” to go with the copious funny lines.

  11. Music Really Great 4.5

    Two Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy singles (I Can See For Miles and My Generation) anchor the movie, while the ever popular Won’t Get Fooled Again also gets put into play, notwithstanding that it came out years after the movie’s time period.

    The rest of the movie uses both great and gimicky songs from the day. Examples of the former include the Kinks’ All Day and All of the Night, Procol Harum’s Whiter Shade Of Pale and the Stones’ Let’s Spend The Night Together. One example of the former is good old Hang on Sloopy.

  12. Visuals Really Great 4.5

    The British ministerial offices are spectacularly designed mid-century modern architectural settings, complete with first rate paintings and sculpture. For instance, the Miro hanging on a conference room wall deftly adds to the movie’s comedic surrealism.

  13. Content
  14. Risqué 2.0

    The R rating seems harsh given the lack of actual nudity and sex. That said, the movie celebrates rock-n-roll radio’s ability to lead kids into sin, so this is hardly proper entertainment for a church group.

  15. Sex Titillating 2.4

    The scene glimpsed in the trailer of countless groupies surrounding a DJ didn’t seem to be in the movie itself. Gip. Guess we’ll have to wait for the director’s cut DVD.

  16. Violence Gentle 1.5
  17. Rudeness Salty 2.0
  18. Glib 1.6

    This callow bunch of sacrilegious sailors did their Cold War duty in a way, since rock & roll helped bring down the Evil Empire as surely – if not as primarily – as did Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II. When youth behind the Iron Curtain discovered they were missing the Beatles and the Stones, they knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that their leaders were cheating them.

    The other notable societal development the movie brings to mind is how 60s rock culture made sacrilege hip: The notion that religion could be taken seriously became absurd in this milieu. While mildly dangerous within Western society, this if-it-feels-good-do-it atheism has proven intellectually disarming in our current era of Islamist Jihad against Britain, America, Denmark, Israel and the rest of the Western World.

    Finally, offshore pirate radio proved that electronic media will always find a way to evade governmental control. The internet proves that in spades, as the tyrannical regime in Tehran has come to learn, to pick just one current example.

  19. Circumstantial Glib 1.7
  20. Biological Glib 1.5
  21. Physical Glib 1.5


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Jan 25, 2010 7:49PM

I agree. Pirate Radio is definitely the best title. Even the titles from France – Good Morning England – and Italy – I Love Radio Rock – are better than The Boat That Rocked.

Jan 25, 2010 6:33PM

Regarding hurwizzle’s Review
I am confused about two things:

1) This movie seems to be called “The Boat That Rocked” everywhere I find it online.

2) “Pirate Radio” is a FAR better title than “The Boat That Rocked,” so why would they choose the latter?

Jan 25, 2010 4:05PM

Regarding hurwizzle’s Review
Perfectly pithy.