Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Keep The Boat Rockin'

Objectively, Pirate Radio is really not that great of a movie. There's really not that much to the plot. The characters aren't really developed all that well (probably because there are so many of them). The writing is average. It's probably a little too long. And no acting performance really jumped out at me (sure, Philip Seymour Hoffman was good in the movie, but I don't know if he was Philip-Seymour-Hoffman-good). But, subjectively, I was really glad I went. The movie is funny and entertaining, if nothing else. And I really think that anyone who loves rock music should see this thing.

The movie is loosely based on real life (I love that phrase by the way -- I feel like any movie can be "loosely" based on real life). Back in the 1960's, the British government controlled the radio airwaves and would rarely play any rock or pop (it's weird to think of bands that we consider classic rock today as pop bands back in their day, but that's what a lot of them were). To combat this, pirate radio stations were set up on boats off the coast of Britain (in international waters). One of these stations was Radio Rock (loosely based on Radio Caroline -- a station that still exists today).

Carl (played by relative unknown Tom Sturridge) is sent by his mother to join the crew on board Radio Rock after getting in a bit of trouble (his grandfather, played by the legendary Bill Nighy, is the manager of the station). His arrival leads to some new revelations among the crew and its past that make up a good chunk of the movie's plot. The rest concerns the struggle between the station and British government minister Dormandy who is played by Kenneth Branagh (anyone who has ever watched TNT on a Sunday afternoon probably knows him better as Dr. Loveless from Wild Wild West). But don't try and concern yourself with the plot too much. The best way to enjoy the movie is to sit back and laugh at the shenanigans of the various DJ's. I think my favorite was definitely Rhys Darby's (Murray from Flight of the Conchords) Angus. But Philip Seymour Hoffman's The Count and Nick Frost's (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) Dave were also really good.

And, as any of these fictional DJ's would tell you, it's all about the music. The soundtrack is terrific and might be the best part of the movie (especially for fellow classic rock lovers). The song selection is great and really goes with the movie pretty seamlessly. It's loaded with great classics (I'm no expert, but I assume they're all 60's rocks songs) and can be found here. And the end of the movie (one of my favorite parts -- but not because it meant it was over) also shows a pretty cool montage of famous album covers (as proof that rock has survived despite the British government's best efforts).

Bottom line: This movie won't blow you away -- not by a longshot. But any fan of rock 'n' roll who wants to sit back and be entertained for a couple of hours will surely enjoy it. (B-)

Here's the preview:

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