Review: Pirate Radio DVD

STUDIO: Universal | DIRECTOR: Richard Curtis | CAST: Tom Sturridge, Emma Thompson, Bill Nighy, Rhys Ifans, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kenneth Branagh, Nick Frost, January Jones
RELEASE DATE: 4/13/2010 | PRICE: DVD $26.98, Blu-ray $29.98
BONUSES: commentary, deleted scenes
SPECS: R | 117 min. | Comedy | 2.35:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1 | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Originally entitled The Boat that Rocks in its British incarnation and featuring several minutes snipped from its American release, Pirate Radio is a lively, music-packed change-of-pace from rom-com specialist Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Notting Hill).

In 1966, high school student Carl (Tom Sturridge) is taken by his mother (Emma Thompson) to the radio station that his godfather (Bill Nighy) manages. The station happens to be Radio Rock, based in the British North Sea, where it broadcasts rock music England’s youth can’t get anywhere else. Carl meets the eclectic crew of disc jockeys, which include the American known as The Count (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and the legendary Gavin (Rhys Ifans), gets his first experiences with women and learns of the government’s attempts to put the station out of business.

The top-notch cast (which also includes Kenneth Branagh, Nick Frost and January Jones) keeps the fun afloat even when Curtis threatens to sink things by tackling too much with an excess of colorful characters.

Pirate Radio should appeal to baby boomers who will dig the classic rock score played by its gallery of anti-establishment eccentrics. And while the film didn’t draw much of a crowd here or abroad, it should score on the home market where interested parties will get cozy with The Kinks, The Who, Cream and others through the film’s unending haze of cigarette and pot smoke.


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About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.