The Boat That Rocked movie full length review - A hidden gem that can't be missed
I freaking love movies like this. They're fun, charming, vulgar, and they rock! It's the kind of movie you just don't want to end and you can't possibly get enough of.
Pirate Radio (or The Boat that Rocked to the Brits) is set in Great Britain in 1966 when rock and roll was all but banned from regular radio stations so DJ's would take large fishing boats and anchor them in the North Sea. From there they would broadcast rock and roll music to the people of Britain 24/7. Pirate Radio is a fictionalized and idealized story of one boat full of a wacky cast of characters who all share one thing in common, a love and a passion for music. The movie excellently spans multiple genres including comedy, drama, romance, and musical. It is one of the most brilliant comedies I've seen in a long time. It's got a lot of laughs and also a lot of heart. And to top it off it's got a plethora of great music which houses all the greatness this film encompasses.
This film starts good and then just gets better and better. It never lags and it never loses its momentum. The story is almost entirely told on the boat and it all centers around the vast amount of characters who live on that boat. The only parts of the film that don't take place there are the cuts to the various nameless groups of people who are listening to the radio station, as well as the British Parliament and Kenneth Branagh's attempts to shut down the pirate radio once and for all, so as to restore the country to its past glory and respect. The entire concept of the pirate radio is a fun one, and the amount of things that take place on this one boat are amazing, as well as hilarious. It would be easy to grow tired of this film since it does run just under two hours and there's a lot of romance and a fine mixture of drama that takes place, but none of it ever bored me somehow. I adored this movie from start to finish. Perhaps it was the cavalcade of fun characters, or the great music, or the magnificent performances from all the actors, but whatever it was I loved it and had a lot of fun with it.
Just the overall feel of this film is enough to get you excited. It is an incredible film to just to listen to, if nothing else. It has a wonderfully appropriate and fitting soundtrack that doesn't just back the on screen action, but progresses it. This movie is definitely an idealized nostalgic look at the 1960's and the music selection does it justice. Every track keeps the film alive and gleaming with heart, soul, and laughter. This film is as much about the music as it is the story and characters and this aspect is never lost amongst any of the many multiple story lines that take place within the film. The film also maintains a uniqueness in the way the story is actually told. Overall, it is fueled by the music, but the story is almost episodic in nature. I already mentioned how there are a lot of characters in Pirate Radio and all their stories are told in a subtle vignette like manner. There is still one overarching story in the film surrounding the boat and its success, but there are many subplots that develop each of the characters fully and as entertaining as possible. It isn't difficult to keep up with any of the subplots, and each one provides something different, enticing, and highly entertaining.
Of course Pirate Radio wouldn't have maintained the kind of excitement and cavalier fun it possesses if not for a riotously fantastic cast. There are plenty of big stars in this film, but also a number of unknowns who are just as great if not better than some of the A-list members of the varied cast. Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays perhaps the best role of the film as the head DJ, The Count. He is the only American on the boat and it is obvious he is living the dream, pioneering this rebellious rock revolution from his boat. Bill Nighy plays Quentin. I'm not sure if his role on the boat is ever specifically explained, but he seems to be the "manager" of sorts for the radio station. His role is significant as well as hilarious as he perfectly encompasses the rebellious old man who fits in with the kids just as well as anybody else. Another of my favorite roles was Nick Frost's role as Dave. He looks something like a fat Paul McCartney and his over the top, vulgar, and ridiculous performance is nothing short of hilarious. There are numerous recognizable British TV actors in the film as well such as Rhys Darby, Tom Brooke, and Chris O'Dowd star in some great roles as well. The whole cast compliments each other very well, and they all play a uniquely entertaining role in the film.
Pirate Radio exceeded any and all expectations I had for it, much to my surprise. It is a hilarious experience, but it also has a sentimental heart and a sincere insight on the importance of music. The film excellently reflects how important music is and the significant spiritual role it plays in our lives. The film does an amazing job at conveying this heartfelt message amidst a wide story full of so many characters all very different from each other at heart. It's sad to see how this film came and went upon its initial release back in early 2009. But because of that it has, to me at least, earned the title of a true hidden gem.