By Amelia Blevins
In 1966, the United Kingdom was rocked by a boat-full of pirates—rock and roll pirates. Broadcasting from the North Sea, a motley crew of U.K. deejays, led by the “The Count” (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), spun outlawed rock albums from a rusty old boat. But of course Pirate Radio (originally titled The Boat That Rocked in the U.K.) was anything but legal.
With their rowdy, lewd and explicit radio shows, it was no surprise that “the man” was out to shut them down. Headed by a government minister with a personal vendetta (Kenneth Branagh) and his appropriately named underling, Twatt (Jack Davenport), the British government would do anything to take rock off the radio waves.
A brilliantly appropriate ‘60s soundtrack—the music of The Kinks, The Who, Jimi Hendrix and Cream (among oh so many more)—acts as a psychedelic background and contributes to the wild and uproarious mood for this screwy, swashbuckling comedy. The ensemble cast of rebels includes standouts in the ever-swanky boss Quentin (Bill Nighy), his attractive young godson, Carl (Tom Sturridge), and the legendary Gavin (Rhys Ifans) among the rest of the ragtag men who are determined to keep their radio show on the air and in the homes of their 25 million attentive listeners.
Though the film, directed by Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually, Notting Hill), lacks any deep or meaningful plot, it surely tells us one thing: These guys live, and are willing to die, for their music. For fans that grew up with these hits and those who are dusting off their parents’ vinyl collection, Pirate Radio is a trippy, rebellious boatload of fun.