Film Review – Pirate Radio

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this film, originally titled “The Boat That Rocked”. I saw the previews for it and some clips with interviews with the actors and a huge part of me wanted to see it. And then there were parts with ridiculous clothing and dancing and singing on a ship – which 1000% turned me off. Thankfully, the singing and dancing were reserved for very specific and (almost) appropriate parts of the film.

This film is about a time in British history where pop and rock music simply were not played on the radio. There were boats anchored off shore that would broadcast music people actually liked and were technically doing nothing illegal. The government hated these stations for giving kids a rebellious attitude, but the only thing the government could do was create BS laws that would make what these ships were doing crimes of the highest order. The story line of this particular adventure is a young kid gets sent to live on the ship by his mother (his godfather is the ship’s captain), because he isn’t adjusting well socially and he’s been caught smoking a bit of the herb. The ship’s residents – all on-air-disc jockeys – take him under their wing and show him a bit about life and a bit about radio. They have huge outlandish parties on board where they ship women from the shore to the boat and do wild things to them and then send them back home.

The government passes a law to make paid advertising illegal on these ships and this only slows down the ship’s team. The government passes an additional law saying the radio signals endanger merchant marine’s lives. The government then sends out an armada of boats to shut down the ship, but the ship sets sail on the lamb still broadcasting… until it hits something and starts to sink. Then the government won’t step in to help save the lives of the radio people.

The film is really well done. Despite some super shaky hand-held footage aboard a rocky boat at the beginning, they eventually find a tripod that helped my nausea. Philip Seymour Hoffman is brilliant in this film as is the guy from Shaun of the Dead (Nick Frost). You actually grow to love these characters and their off-beat sense of humor and camaraderie. I would recommend this film to people who grew up listening to the radio, people who are old enough to remember the 60’s (which I am not, just so you know), or people who have roots in radio or broadcast (which I do, consequently). Apparently, the film is historically-based (still fictional, so not historically accurate), so it should tell you something about how far the media has come in the last 40 or 50 years.

(4 out of 5 fus)


I'm a cross between Taylor Swift and Danzig, with a small dose of Christpher Burke thrown in. I like fried foods wrapped in bacon and I collect B-movies and kung-fu films. I host a regularly-occuring Bad Movie Night for 20-30 of my closest friends—jealous, aren't you?

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