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DVD Review: Pirate Radio

April 13, 2010

Pirate Radio – An Alliance Films Release

DVD Release Date: April 13th, 2010

Rated 14A for coarse language, and nudity.

Running time: 117 minutes

Richard Curtis (dir.)

Richard Curtis (writer)

Philip Seymour Hoffman as The Count

Bill Nighy as Quentin

Rhys Ifans as Angus Nutsford

Nick Frost as Doctor Dave

Kenneth Branagh as Sir Alistair Dormandy

© 2009 Universal Studios and MedienProduktion Prometheus FilmgesellschaftT mbH & Co. KG.  All Rights Reserved.  Distributed exclusively in Canada by Alliance Films.  All Rights Reserved.

Special Features include:

• Deleted Scenes

• Feature Commentary with Director Richard Curtis, Producer Hilary Bevan Jones, Actors Nick Frost and Chris O’Dowd

Our reviews below:


Pirate Radio DVD Review By John C.

**1/2 (out of 4)

In 1966, the British government would not allow more than an hour of pop music to be played on the radio.  A group of rebels, headed by The Count (Philip Seymour Hoffman), would broadcast pop/rock music 24/7, from a boat just off the British coast.  Pirate Radio tells this story, with the added help of a boatload of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll.  Told with a bright, fun energy, and a variety of music video style sequences, this is often a lot of fun to watch.

Pirate Radio is a pretty good movie, that could have been better, but is saved by a bounty of great music, and despite an uneven tone, some segments of genuine goodness.  In other words, it’s worth seeing on DVD, but it’s not the great movie it could have been.

The DVD includes deleted scenes, and audio commentary with director Richard Curtis.


Pirate Radio DVD Review By Erin V.

*** (out of 4)

Based on several different true accounts of ships broadcasting off the coast of England, (in order to get around the law in the 1960’s), Pirate Radio is a comedy about a fictional such ship.  I did actually like the original title of the film, The Boat That Rocked a bit better, but that doesn’t really have to do with the actual film…

The film starts when young Carl, (Tom Sturridge), is shipped to the boat by his mother, for reasons you find out in the film.  There he gets a crash course in the fun-loving, music-centric world of rock and roll radio D.J.’s.  The 8 D.J.’s on the ship range from the lead D.J. ‘The Count’, (Philip Seymour Hoffman), – an American on the ship, to Bob, (Ralph Brown), the reclusive nighttime D.J., who half the crew hadn’t realized was even on the boat with them, because of their different schedules.  These characters are all different, and funny to watch.  Then, there are also the uptight government officials, trying to shut them down, which leads up to a great climax.  Interestingly, if you think about it, this film really only has two main locations – the ship with the D.J.’s, and the government offices.

The cast makes this film entertaining – although it’s a bit long at almost 2 hours (an original version of the film was apparently 2 hours, 15 minutes!).  Parts were funnier than others, although as a comedy, overall it was pretty good.  It is worth seeing to hear all of the great music from the 60’s, and for those who remember these songs especially, I say check this one out.


Pirate Radio DVD Review By Nicole

*** (out of 4)

Loosely inspired by true events, Pirate Radio is a fun musical adventure.  When a teenage boy named Carl is sent on a boat by his mother, he discovers a rebellious group of deejays running their own radio station.  It’s 1966, and the British government is censoring a lot of the contemporary music.  However, the ban doesn’t extend to the ocean, so how can the government stop certain songs from being broadcast from a boat?  When the government finds out what these musical “pirates” are doing, they will do everything in their power to try to stop them.

Pirate Radio has a lot of funny moments, as well as an exciting ending that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  While some people have pointed out some musical anachronisms in the film, there is enough good music to keep this film going.  Pirate Radio is a fun movie that is worth checking out.


Pirate Radio DVD Review By Maureen

**1/2 (out of 4)

IT’s 1966 England and a whole generation of radio listeners want to hear real rock music and real rock music D.J.s.  When the British government tries to censor radio content, a group of renegade D.J.s operate a pirate radio station from a ship at sea out of legal boundaries.

Pirate Radio takes viewers back to the 60’s and a world of free-speech, free loving and some really great music.  The characters are all quirky with a lot of funny moments as they all try to co-exist on the ship.  The fact that this story is loosely based on truth makes it all the more interesting.  Eccentric individuals taking on the government is always fun.  The movie storyline wraps up with an epic ending of Titanic proportions.

Pirate Radio is lots of fun, with good acting and even better music.  Buy it or rent it, but make sure to see it if you are a 60’s rock music fan.


Pirate Radio DVD Review By Tony

**1/2 (out of 4)

Pirate Radio (aka The Boat That Rocked) is the fictional story of a “pirate” radio station broadcasting rock music from a boat outside British waters in the North Sea in the mid 1960s.  As a sign of adolescent decadence this music was still ignored by regular broadcasters and there were government officials who tried to shut the pirates down, even though at least half the population was listening to them.

At two hours, Pirate Radio is uneven, but I don’t think it deserves the trashing it got from critics who quibble about its inaccuracies. Though it doesn’t quite live up to its promising trailers, watching them again after the film reminded me how much fun it was despite some of the caricatures and humour falling flat.  At least the music playing in the background is the real thing, usually heard through lo-fi speakers as we may remember it, unlike the fake 50s stuff written by Broadway hacks for musicals like Grease.  Though without his favourites Rowan Atkinson or Hugh Grant, director Richard Curtis has assembled a good mostly British cast with Philip Seymour Hoffman as “The Count”, a cool expat dj in rotation with the naughty Gavin (Rhys Ifans), chubby Dr. Dave (Nick Frost), reclusive night shift deadhead Bob (Ralph Brown) and other talent. Bill Nighy plays the ship captain with mock seriousness, opposed by Kenneth Branagh as the cruelly uptight Sir Alistair of the cabinet and Jack Davenport as his henchman Twatt (sic).  Relationships between crew and various “birds” add to the fun.  Watch for a cameo by Emma Thompson, hidden by a big hat and shades and recognizable only by voice.  The clothes evoke the period brilliantly, from the dorky “suits” of the government to the flamboyant Carnaby Street apparel of the pirates.  Finally, the scenes of folks of all ages and walks of life enjoying the music make it all seem worthwhile.


Consensus: Though not brilliant, Pirate Radio is a fun comedy that’s worth checking out – especially if you remember the days of 60’s rock. **3/4 (Out of 4)

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