Pirate Radio
They’re serving more than booze on this cruise.

Theatrical Release Date: 11/13/2009
Director: Richard Curtis
Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tom Sturridge, Bill Nighy, Rhys Darby, Nick Frost, Kenneth Branagh, Gemma Arterton, Rhys Ifans, January Jones, Emma Thompson

Pirate Radio is loosely based on a collection of true events with an awesome soundtrack, filled with toe tapping rock classics. Truthfully, I was a little surprised by how fantastic the soundtrack was; although I probably should have expected it given that the film is all about the music. The soundtrack is filled with rock classics by British greats like The Beatles, The Stones and The Who; it also includes American classics from artists like the Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix.

Set during the 1960s, the movie revolves around the British government’s attempt to ban rock and roll from the airwaves, refusing to play even one hour of rock daily. Consequently, numerous pirate radio stations anchored boats off the British coast and broadcast their hearts’ desires. These radio stations were immensely popular with over half the British population (25 million people) listening in.

I loved how this film gave you such intimate access to the DJs and how sharply this contrasted with the stuffiness of the British officials. This dichotomy was truly emphasized in a number of subtle ways including costuming, direction, cinematography, and script. Director, Richard Curtis, did a fantastic job picking shots and using the full canvas of the screen to really highlight this fundamental divide. The movie is superbly casted and acted including well known actors like Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Nick Frost, Jack Davenport, Rhys Ifans, and Emma Thompson, with a witty, and funny script.

While probably not an academy caliber movie, it’s thoroughly entertaining and the soundtrack alone is well worth collecting. I thoroughly enjoyed how this movie made me wonder what would have happened to rock and roll had the British government succeeded or if Djs had not rebelled by taking over the airwaves to play the music they loved. Admittedly, I was expecting this movie to be a boring history lesson filled with thick English accents. In actuality, this film was vibrant, filled with humor, and amazing music.

The movie felt a tad long in parts with a runtime of 135 minutes, but the constant barrage of classic rock kept the audience engaged. I am slightly concerned about this film’s accessibility for younger generations have no memory of vinyl or 8-tracks and may serve as a bit of a history lesson for some. Honestly though, even with this aside, Pirate Radio is a strong box office contender and is well worth the time/money to go see, earning a 4 of 5.