Moviegoing isn’t always about deep meanings, life-changing concepts or even just sending someone home with a theory to consider. Sometimes it’s just about having fun, and the men of Radio Rock will help you do just that. Pirate Radio is just as much of a party as the daily lives of the crew on the ship. No morals, no shame and good music; who wouldn’t want to climb aboard Radio Rock?
Back in the 1960s, the BBC had a monopoly on radio services in the UK. Perhaps this wouldn’t have been a problem if they played more than just two hours of rock and roll music a week. The high demand for rock and the low supply led to the emergence of pirate radio.
The Radio Rock floats in the middle of the North Sea, conveniently just outside the government’s jurisdiction. From the boat Quentin (Bill Nighy) and his team of DJs provide pop and rock 24 hours a day to nearly half of the British population. His partners in crime include The Count (Philip Seymour Hoffman), an American DJ dedicated to the music; Dave (Nick Frost), a fun loving guy with a seriously sarcastic side; sweet Simon (Chris O’Dowd) who’s desperate to find love; Midnight Mark (Tom Wisdom) who has an overabundance of love; and Bob (Ralph Brown), the mysterious late night DJ. Then there’s Felicity (Katherine Parkinson), the cook who’s exempt from the ship’s no lady policy because she’s a lesbian; Thick Kevin (Tom Brooke) who’s, well, thick; the news reporter John (Will Adamsdale), the butt of everyone’s jokes; Angus (Rhys Darby); and Radio Rock’s newest pirate, Quentin’s godson Carl (Tom Sturridge). Carl gets kicked out of school and for some bizarre reason his mother decides that some time on Radio Rock will straighten him out.
Meanwhile, on the mainland, minister Dormandy (Kenneth Branagh) is more determined than ever to put an end to pirate radio. With his secondary Twatt (Jack Davenport) - yes, that’s his name - by his side he works to enact the Marine Offense Act and end pirate radio once and for all.
Pirate Radio is far from perfect, but it’s an undeniably fun film. Considering nearly my entire synopsis is character description, it’s clear there’s an abundance of players in need of development, and Pirate Radio provides just enough for each of them. On the other hand, when it comes to plot development, the film lacks significantly.
It’s extremely difficult to figure out where to focus your attention. Okay, this kid Carl hops on a boat packed with sex-crazed radio DJs. Then there’s the feud between The Count and Gavin (Rhys Ifans). Oh, and Simon’s marriage issues. And how can I forget the unusually epic ending? It’s not that there’s so much going on at once, it’s that it’s all happening in an extremely rapid succession. Once you’ve focused on one subplot, the film has moved on to the next, leaving you no time to digest much of the material.
The key to enjoying Pirate Radio is letting your mind idle. Sit back, relax and enjoy the film’s highlights, the music and the cast. I could go through the spectacular Pirate Radio roster and tell you why each actor delivers, but it’s the group collaboration that makes the ensemble especially effective. The Radio Rock crewmembers are the coolest guys on the waves, and there's no way you'll walk out of this film without wanting to join their party.
There’s little resonance and portions of the film are absurd, namely the ending, but the senseless fun keeps Pirate Radio firmly afloat. With Oscar season fast approaching many will get serious and scrutinize films to the core in an attempt to assess their award winning potential. Well, Pirate Radio isn’t winning any awards, so chill out, have fun, enjoy the music and you’ll have a blast.
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