Pirate Radio is good, silly entertainment set to a relentless ‘60’s rock soundtrack.
If you go to this movie expecting even a semi-serious storyline you won’t be happy, but if you are after a funny look at 1960’s Britain with all the period music, clothes and hairstyles you can handle, well then you will be laughing. Director Richard Curtis, of Four Weddings and a Funeral , Notting Hill and Love Actually fame, delivers a cartoony love-letter to 1960’s rock with this film. There is a song for every mood, plot-point and character involved, which is a great thing if you love the Rolling Stones, Hendrix, the Beatles, the Who, the Kinks and the Beach Boys.
The movie begins with a British cabinet meeting at 10 Downing St. where our villain, Sir Alistair Dormandy, played with comic-book aplomb by Kenneth Branagh, exposes his fanatical desire to squash the rising blight of pirate radio stations which are bombarding “the recently Great” Britain with rock-n-roll music. The biggest of these stations is Radio Rock, run by the equally absurd Quentin, Bill Nighy. Quentin presides over an assemblage of British comedy actors on a ship (yes, yes this is all about as serious as Andy Samberg’s “I am on a Boat” music video) posing as the station’s DJ lineup. We have Shaun of the Dead’s Nick Frost, Rhys Ifans (best known to American’s as the naked guy in Notting Hill) and Chris O’Dowd and Katherine Parkinson (Roy and Jen from the IT Crowd). For variety we also have an American, Philip Seymour Hoffman and a New Zealander, Rhys Darby from Flight of the Conchords,
The movie quickly regresses into a buddy film set on the high seas. The Count (Hoffman) is big DJ on ship until his supremacy is challenged by the velvety smooth Gavin (Ifans). The other males jockey about, happy to play second fiddle, getting their kicks in their various radio personae and with the bi-weekly boatload of lovely ladies sent to the ship for conjugal visits. On this musical voyage we also have a coming-of-age tale when Quentin’s young godson Carl (Tom Sturridge) comes aboard to learn all about sex, strangely no drugs and rock-n-roll. Eventually, the rivalry between The Count and Gavin comes to a happy and very silly ending, clearing the way for the big battle between Radio Rock and the Evil Sir. Dormandy and his loathsome sidekick named, yes!, Mr. Twatt.
All in all Pirate Radio is good, goofy fun.