The Boat That Rocked (15)



Comedy (2009)
135mins UK

Starring: Bill Nighy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Nick Frost, Rhys Ifans, Tom Wisdom, Rhys Darby, Gemma Arterton, Emma Thompson, Kenneth Branagh, Jack Davenport, January Jones
Director: Richard Curtis
Writer(s): Richard Curtis
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Nostalgic tale of friendship between the members of a pirate radio station, broadcasting from the relative safety of the North Sea in 1966. Unlike the BBC which broadcasts only 45 minutes of rock 'n' roll a week, Radio Rock devotes every minute of every day to music, drawing in around 25 million listeners under the leadership of Quentin. His godson Carl, who has recently been expelled from school, joins Radio Rock for the summer in the hope that he might mend his ways. Instead, the youngster embarks on a quest to track down his biological father, who could be one of the DJs. Meanwhile, back in London, government minister Dormandy and his eager-to-please protege explore every legal loophole to shut down the pirate radio stations.

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LondonNet Film Review
The Boat That Rocked

Ever since Hugh Grant and his floppy fringe bumbled through Four Weddings And A Funeral, screenwriter Richard Curtis hasn't just been taking the nation's romantic pulse - he has been encouraging it to race out of control...

Will Adamsdale (John), Tom Wisdom (Mark), Bill Nighy (Quentin), Nick Frost (Dave), Katherine Parkinson (Felicity), Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Count), Ike Hamilton (Harold) and Ralph Brown (Bob) in THE BOAT THAT ROCKED. Photo Credit: Alex Bailey. Copyright: © 2009 Universal Studios. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.Wet Wet Wet laid siege to the top of the UK charts thanks to Curtis' popular blend of sentimentality and earthy humour, followed up five years later by the fairy-tale amour of Notting Hill starring Julia Roberts. In Christmas 2003, we swooned to the multi-faceted Love Actually, which he also directed, his third collaboration with lucky talisman Grant. Now, Curtis takes the helm for this nostalgic tale of friendship between the members of a pirate radio station, broadcasting from the relative safety of the North Sea in the mid-'60s. His favourite leading man is nowhere to be seen on the high seas - nor for that matter are the big laughs and gooey outpourings of longing and desire, supplanted by male bonding and sexual indiscretions.

The year is 1966, a golden era for rock 'n' roll in this country, but BBC radio plays a mere 45 minutes of pop music a day; hardly enough to satisfy the appetite of a nation torn between The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. So, around 25 million listeners secretly tune into pirate radio stations, which devote every waking (and sleeping) minute to music, to the chagrin of the government. One such station is Radio Rock, under the captainship of dapper gent, Quentin (Bill Nighy). His roster of DJs is a motley crew of oddballs and misfits with one thing in common: a passion for vinyl. They include brash American star broadcaster The Count (Philip Seymour Hoffman), sarcastic and cruel Dave (Nick Frost), love sick Simon (Chris O'Dowd), sex god Midnight Mark (Tom Wisdom), goofy Angus 'The Nut' Nutsford (Rhys Darby), newsreader On-The-Hour John (Will Adamsdale) and the aptly named Thick Kevin (Tom Brooke). Quentin's godson Carl (Tom Sturridge), who has recently been expelled from school, joins Radio Rock for the summer at the behest of his mother (Emma Thompson), in the hope that the lad might mend his ways. Instead, Carl embarks on a quest to track down his biological father, who could be one of the members of crew, witnessing the tensions when star deejay Gavin (Rhys Ifans) returns to the fray, usurping The Count as the station's golden boy. Meanwhile, back in London, government minister Dormandy (Kenneth Branagh) explores every legal loophole to shut down the pirate radio stations, with the help of his unfortunately named protege, Twatt (Jack Davenport). "I want rock off the radio in 12 months," barks Dormandy, "and I want you to be my private assassin!"

Rhys Ifans (Gavin) and Bill Nighy (Quentin) in THE BOAT THAT ROCKED. Photo Credit: Alex Bailey. Copyright: © 2008 Universal Studios. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.The Boat That Rocked certainly rocks and rolls to a thumping soundtrack which includes The Beach Boys, Jeff Beck, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, The Rolling Stones and The Who. However, the script springs a leak early on as it attempts to keep afloat too many thinly sketched characters and gradually loses ballast under the weight of its own unfulfilled ambition. As usual, Nighy pilfers most of the chuckles as a swaggering man of loose morals, who views Carl's expulsion for smoking cigarettes and drugs as "spectacular!" and goes out of his way to provide his god son with some female attention. The running joke with the name of Dormandy's underling grows weary very quickly, made worse by Branagh's theatrics as the pantomime villain. Subtlety tumbles overboard as the battle between the government and the deejays intensifies, culminating in a bizarre action-oriented finale reminiscent of Titanic, albeit on a tight budget.

- Kim Hu


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