Every once in a while a film comes along that makes you think, “Damn it why didn’t I grow up in the (insert era other than late 90s here).”
It happened with Cameron Crowe’s “Almost Famous “ “" a film which not only made a road trip across the USA look fun but also made me long for the flared jeans and excessive facial hair of the 1970s.
There was also “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” by eighties God John Hughes, who made leg warmers, ditching school and impersonating Chicago’s “Sausage King” seem like the height of cool.
But after seeing “The Boat That Rocked” I whole heartedly wish I grew up in the 1960s. Preferably on a boat, with a group of eccentric hippies, running a pirate radio station in the UK.
Starring: Bill Nighy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Gemma Arterton
Running time: 129 minutes
Alas, my formative years were spent travelling Australia not gallivanting in the North Sea, but for two hours I got to imagine how great it would have been.
And trust me it would have been bloody fantastic.
Director Richard Curtis delivers a fun and entertaining look at the sort-of-true story of UK’s pirate radio stations, in a film that is thankfully sans Hugh Grant.
A colourful collection of characters and a kicking 60’s soundtrack just make up for the film’s lengthy running time and helps disguise the fact that plot wise, not too much is happening.
In short, innocent newbie Carl (Tom Sturridge) is sent to live with his godfather (Bill Nighy) on board “Radio Rock” with a group of DJ’s responsible for disseminating rock music to Great Britain, in a time when BBC Radio broadcast less than two hours of popular music a week.
Of course there is a stiff-upper lip British hack determined to shut the pirates down and the film chronicles the government’s attempts to discredit “Radio Rock” and their supposedly loose morals.
That, boys and girls is pretty much the story of “The Boat That Rocked” just add a dash of “coming-of-age” to the plot.
But really, there is no need to be too disappointed by the central story (or lack there-of).
“The Boat That Rocked” a.k.a a Richard Curtis film (think “Notting Hill” and “Love Actually”) was never going to have a great deal of narrative complexity and the movie is well compensated by the number of laughs it generates.
Bill Nighy who, let’s face it gets cooler the older he gets, is on fine form as Quentin, the eccentric proprietor who is tricked into dropping the first “f-bomb” on air.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman gets to channel his “Lester Bangs- laid back- muso cool” as the American DJ The Count who is slightly threatened by the arrival of serial “"Lothario and DJ extraordinaire, Gavin (Rhys Ifans).
Tom Sturridge as young Carl (think a cross between Jim Sturgess and Robert Pattinson) wins over the audience with his youthful naivety and shares a hilarious scene with Nick Frost’s Dave, who tries desperately to help Carl lose his virginity.
Rhys Darby from Flight of the Conchords is a stand out as the self-proclaimed nut Angus, who totally flips at the film’s ending telling fellow DJ Mark “to try and fuck his way out of this.”
As the aforementioned hack, the deliciously smarmy Kenneth Branagh delivers one-liner gold, telling a junior team member that his hair cut is so bad that “I’m sure even blind people would be able to sense its profound ugliness.”
Bond girl Gemma Arterton, “Mad Men”s January Jones, and Talulah Riley break up the testosterone fest, as the female fans ready to party with the Radio Rock lads but their appearances are all too brief in what is essentially a male ensemble comedy.
Those expecting typical Curtis fare (romantic comedy) will most likely be disappointed by the film’s lack of romance and perhaps the distinct absence of Hugh Grant.
However for those looking for a laugh or two, “The Boat That Rocked” will certainly deliver and old school rock fans should definitely check out the soundtrack “" the film’s ending montage of music’s greats should be sure to please.