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The Boat That Rocked (2009)

Pirate Radio

1 Boat. 8 DJs. No Morals.

Rating: 5/10

Running Time: 135 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15

In Britain in 1966, rock’n’roll is at the height of it’s powers, yet the hyper conservative BBC will only allow forty-five minutes of popular music on the air per day. However, from shipping trawlers around the British Isles, irreverent radio shows are transmitting pop music to the masses. Young Carl is kicked out of school and is inexplicably sent to Radio Rock by his mother to be straightened out. Onboard he meets a medley of oddball DJ’s who are having the time of their lives and defying a British Government determined to shut them down.

The Boat That Rocked opens with all guns firing, as it bounds straight into a lively montage of kitsch sixties’ nostalgia and colourful characters. When Curtis gets it right, we are treated to some great British sardonic humour and bawdy visual gags. Bill Nighy’s pithy delivery is spot on and Philip Seymour Hoffman is as loveable as ever. These two are in a class of their own but they are ably supported by the cream of British humour, as well as Rhys Darby from the Flight of the Conchords.

Nonetheless, it all starts to go downhill. The movie is an exercise in throwing half-baked storylines at the The Boat and seeing what sticks. The authorities who are trying to shut down the station go missing for most of the film and are just an excuse to bring it to a close. The paternity strand, seventeen-hour wedding and the character of Carl in its entirety are just pointless and underdone. The soundtrack is great – plenty of The Kinks, Rolling Stones and Dusty Springfield – but even this grates on the ears after we are never treated to a minute of quiet recollection.

How Richard Cutis thought this self-indulgent movie could possibly justify a running time of over two hours is beyond me. This should have been a compact and fun period piece and not the painfully stretched out of test of attrition that it is.

It's Got: British sardonic wit, Bill Nighy, great soundtrack

It Needs: to be a lot shorter and less rambling, to commit to the peripheral storylines


All the fun of this quirky period piece is squeezed out by the overlong runtime