The Boat That Rocked / Pirate Radio
Director: Richard Curtis
Cast: Tom Sturridge, Bill Nighy, Rhys Ifans, Nick Frost, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Talulah Riley, Chris O’Dowd, Rhys Darby, Ralph Brown, Jack Davenport, Kenneth Branagh
In the mid to late 60s, during the glory days of British rock and pop music, the official radio refused to give the popular artists adequate airplay. In 1966, Radio Rock, a fictional pirate radio, broadcasts from the sea to bring joy to the youth across the UK. While the government tries to shut down this illegal operation, 17-year-old Carl arrives on the ship in search of his father. The era is fascinating and the premise is promising, but Richard Curtis’ follow-up to Love Actually is another flabby comedy. His ensemble cast is impressive, but it translates to too many characters, which in turn leads to massive overlength. 90 minutes of frivolous nostalgia is understandable, 135 minutes is unforgivable (the film was released 19 minutes shorter in the U.S.). It doesn’t help that the sprawling script is all over the place. If that’s not enough, the characters are one thing or they are another. There’s the small-minded nazi-like minister and his troops, and the cool hipster DJs adored by the people. The women don’t come off well on the all-male ship. They are either groupies, deceitful girlfriends, wives and mothers, or lesbians.