Pirate Radio

Pirate Radio group on boat

Pirate Radio
Time/place: 11:10 showing at University 6

I wanted to see this movie back when it was still The Boat That Rocked in the UK, but now that it’s hit American shores with a new title and a different cut I was still just as interested.  I’d still love to see the original version, though.  I doubt it’ll be as big a difference as RocknRolla, but one never knows.  It took me awhile (too long, in my book), but this afternoon I finally saw it (another empty-theater experience) and I found that my interest paid off :).

First thing’s first – this is a happy movie.  Sometimes pictures get a bit of gruff for being cheerful, sappy, or light-hearted – and sometimes those are my favorite movies.  I’m also MILDLY head-over-heels in love with The Dark Knight which ain’t no gumdrop lollipop movie of sunshine.  The main reason I do these reviews is for you, though as with anything here, it’s just as much for my own record.  Nobody can tell you what movies are good or bad, as I’ve talked about before, but perhaps by reading my many movie reviews you can gather a better concept of what turns me on or off in a movie, and be able to better judge what you might like off of that.  Plus, I’m just happy to let people know about movies they may not have heard of, as with something like The Merry Gentleman.

Digression aside, however, this movie is from the same writer/director as Love Actually, so you can gather the mood from that fact alone.  In an interview I found on YouTube, Bill Nighy mentions this very thing when asked about the movie’s atmospherePirate Radio is pure fun, and it doesn’t apologize.  I can respect any moviemaker who does what they want to do, even if I don’t like it.  In this case, though, I like it very much.

Pirate Radio isn’t a classic 3-act story.  It’s about the characters, and the fun of the situation.  Not that this is a mindless comedy, as there are some serious moments, and an even more serious  meaning (more on that below).  The characters are fun, annoying, and endearing.  They very much embody what the actual DJ’s of the inspirational story must have evoked in the minds of the young folks tuning in.  Caricature doesn’t enter this movie, though, and because the group is so familial in nature, it’s hard to find a favorite.  That’s what makes it fun – it’s a ship filled with loons and rebels, and they’re doing it together.  Of course, then there’s the music.

In the aforementioned Love Actually, the music selections are usually fantastic and well placed.  Considering Pirate Radio is about rock and roll in the 60’s, I don’t even have to MENTION how many amazing songs are in this movie.  And there are a lot.  One of my favorite moments, though, is the use of The Who’s “My Generation.”  Of course, there were a few other moments that brought a smile to my face just the same, but I can’t single every one out or you’ll have nothing left to surprise and entertain you if YOU see it.

I absolutely loved everyone in this movie.  Since my discovery of Bill Nighy in Love Actually, I could watch the man order a hamburger and be entertained.  Of course the other big names, like Phillip Seymour Hoffman, are all top-notch in their performances, but it was the actors I didn’t previously know of whose characters were my favorite – namely Simon and Thick Kevin.  Of course, being who I am, I also have to mention that the movie was filled with beautiful women on a regular basis.  January Jones even shows up for a bit, and while some of the pictures of other gals may give things away, I had to at least find one for her.  I think you’ll approve ;).

Pirate Radio January Jones

Richard Curtis is a director I get along well with.  We’re only two movies into our relationship, but I love what he does: ensemble cast of varied and interesting characters, an affinity for wonderful songs and perfect placement of said songs, and a desire to spend time in the cheery feel-good parts of life.  Both times he’s had a few things that I’d rather not be there, but neither movie’s overall feeling has suffered because of them.  My only real gripe with the movie was the camerawork.  It seems to be completely hand-held, and while it isn’t shaky on purpose, as someone who gets dizzy looking at a still-life painting I had a hard time with it at first.  It wasn’t too strong, and I eventually adjusted, but I had to mention it.  Also, after re-watching the trailer, I must say that it is rather misleading.  Firstly, we enter the story after the ship is already well-established, and secondly, while Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s character is a major player, the movie is by no means focused on him.  It is truly an ensemble.

Now, what was I talking about earlier with serious meaning?  It’s a bunch of kooks out in a boat playing Hendrix songs, what’s the meaning?  They were pirates rebelling against an unjust and overly-oppressive system… let’s see if YOU can find the commentary of modern times ;).  This sense of rebellion against foolishness and unacceptably protective big government isn’t preachy, but it’s very much there – and I love it.  It inspired me to write a little entry on the matter, so I’ll save it for that, but this sense of “us vs. them for the sake of the masses” carries on through to the very climax of the movie.

I am very aware that Pirate Radio is not a true story.  That is why it’s “inspired by” not “based on” a true story.  This movie takes the collective spirit of what the UK went through in those few years and piles it into a single story that is fun, touching, inspiring, and, basically, rocks.  Pirate Radio sent me out of the theater with a skip in my step, moist eyes, and some of the best tunes ever created running through my head.  I, quite obviously, wholeheartedly recommend it.

Pirate Radio Bill Nighy and boys

Grade: A+


About Mark Mushakian

Just a man who loves God, women, kids, dogs, movies, and every other lovely thing in life :)
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