Pirate Radio - Movie Review

By Purple

"Pirate Radio" is a rock and roll music lover's fantasy that sets sail with power chords at sea. If you can imagine being sent off in a boat with a band of unruly crazy music lovers, with the sole purpose of playing the songs that defined a generation to defy the uptight establishment back at home, then you belong on-board "Pirate Radio". There was a time during the sixties in the UK, where rock and roll and music was almost all but banned from the national radio service, and as a response, boats rigged with transmitters shipped out into international waters, just out of jurisdiction but still within broadcasting range. These true events are the basis for the fictional tale seen in "Pirate Radio".

Originally titled the 'Boat that rocked the world' for its British release, "Pirate Radio" is another ensemble cast movie written and directed by Richard Curtis, who was the writer of "Four Weddings and a Funeral" and writer director of "Love Actually". And while there's love and romance, thankfully, there's no Hugh Grant and "Pirate Radio" is definitely not just a chick flick. If anything, "Pirate Radio" is a guys bonding on a boat movie, where the surly lot of rock and roll DJ's lock horns and learn to overcome their differences in the name of free speech and loud music.

When the young Carl played by Tom Sturridge is sent to live on the boat as a favor to his mother, he gets shown around by Bill Nighy who as Quentin is the stylish and sophisticated older but still cool leader of the crew. He drops Carl into the deep end and we are quickly swept up into a fast paced rhythm of scenes. At the core is the conflict between British society trying to keep the lid on the emerging rock and roll culture. The pot is stirred up by the belligerent American DJ, the Count played with delight by Philip Seymour Hoffman, who clashes with Ryhs Ifans character, Gavin, when he returns to the boat to reclaim his former glory as the most popular DJ at sea. The large cast that makes up the crew of "Pirate Radio" carries their weight and even though the movie runs two hours long, you wish you had more time to spend with each of the many story threads that get spun up. There are some stand out moments including one for "Mad Men" fans who can't get enough of January Jones as Mrs. Draper, who will be thrilled by her angelic arrival when she descends upon the "Pirate Radio" boat.

A fabulous looking Emma Thompson comes on board to stir things up just long enough to send the plot off into an unexpected direction. While her real life husband Kenneth Branagh is barely recognizable at first as the squirrelly British minister who is hell bent on shutting the radio station down. And while the contrast of high society versus the rock and roll lifestyles is especially well played during the holiday dinner montage, there's a slight disconnect with the villains on land and heroes at sea, who never meet face to face.

"Pirate Radio" delivers on its promise and provides an uplifting fun story that's worth tuning in, its main shortcoming being that you may want more time with its many characters and storylines before coming back ashore. Wishing for an evening show on the "Pirate Radio" boat myself, for Movie Magazine this is Purple.

© 2009 - Purple - Air Date: 11/11/09
Movie Magazine International