Movie Details
Recommendation

The Boat That Rocked (2009)

 
 
 

The Pirate didn't Rock my Boat

We have their testicles in our hands, Twatt, and it feels good - Minister Dormandy

Philip Seymour Hoffman as The Count in The Boat That Rocked

As a teenager during the 80s I remember tuning in to a pirate radio station because they played the best music but that is as far as my fascination with pirate radio went. Obviously writer and director Richard Curtis had a different experience of pirate radio during the swinging 60s which lead him to make "The Boat That Rocked" or "Pirate Radio" as it is also known. But I can't say that I am that impressed with his comedy about pirate radio despite being a fan of many of his comedies.

It's 1966 and a group of whacky DJ's are entertaining the British public as they broadcast music 24/7 from their pirate radio station nearly as much as they are entertaining themselves as they introduce a new member of the crew to the wild life they lead on the boat. But on the mainland their popularity doesn't make everyone happy including politician Sir Alistair Dormandy (Kenneth Branagh - Wild Wild West) who makes it his mission to bring down the pirate radio station and stop their supposed subversive antics from destroying the nations youth.

Rhys Ifans as Gavin in The Boat That Rocked

The biggest problem for me is that "The Boat That Rocked" is all about the 60s and not having experienced this time it sort of alienates me. I can't revel in the nostalgia, the hysteria where DJ's were as idolised as much as Rock Gods and although much of what gets delivered through out "The Boat That Rocked" is what everyone knows of the 60s it just doesn't talk to me in a way which makes me interested. The other side of that is for those who did grow up during the 60s, listening to 60s pirate radio, maybe experimenting in drugs and free love may well find the nostalgia of it all far more engaging.

The other problem is that "The Boat That Rocked" is slim on storyline and due to this is quite boring. What we get is the various madcap antics of the DJs aboard the pirate radio station interspersed with a couple of storylines about new member Carl who for some reason is sent to the boat by his mother in order to straighten up. And then there are the endeavours of the politicians lead by Kenneth Branagh as Sir Alistair Dormandy who wants to take the pirate radio station off the air for their supposed subversive tendencies. Which really isn't enough to make "The Boat That Rocked" that engaging and causes it to drift along on various small and ultimately unimportant storylines until it finds some sort of impetus towards the end.

Even the attempts at comedy are often quite disappointing with many of the jokes, often revolving around the escapades of the DJ's, feeling totally forced and contrived. Maybe the DJ's of the 60s did get up to some of these comical antics but they feel completely unreal and often not that funny.

For me the final nail in the coffin is that there are just far too many characters in "The Boat That Rocked" and as such it's a little too diverse. The sort of central character of Carl played by Tom Sturridge isn't an interesting enough character to hold it all together and so we have a melee of wacky characters, composites of DJs and famous people from the 60s. It's an entertaining bunch which sees Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Nick Frost, Chris O'Dowd, Jack Davenport and Rhys Ifans all delivering fun individual performances but because the storyline is so weak there isn't enough for them to do.

But despite all these negatives there is a positive and that is that "The Boat That Rocked" has a great soundtrack packed to the hilt with classic songs from the 60s which makes it at least a little bit entertaining.

What this all boils down to is that "The Boat That Rocked" ended up not rocking my boat. Richard Curtis is a clever writer and director but what he gives us this time around just doesn't work with much of the humour failing to really make you laugh and not a strong enough storyline to keep you interested. Maybe it's an age thing and those who grew up during the 60s will find the nostalgia more engaging but for me it was disappointing.

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