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Movie Review: Pirate Radio

Alternate Title: The Day the Music (Almost) Died

Story: It is 1966 (one of my favorite years) and the British Government is not happy about the raucous sounds and ideas of Rock 'n Roll. They limit the music to one hour a day on their Government owned radio stations. So what happened? Pirate radio stations began to broadcast in International waters off the coast of Britain allowing 24 million listeners to rock on throughout the day and night. Based on a true story, this light hearted, rambling film was written and directed by Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love, Actually, Bridget Jones' Diary).

If you just sit back and listen to the music and not be too critical about the lack of a story or script you will have a pleasant cinematic experience. The movie is a love story dedicated to the Rock 'n Roll pioneers who fought the British Government and in the process won the hearts and minds of the people. It is not a hard hitting, character driven tale. It actually has too many characters and too little story. That said - if you want to watch a series of vignettes with no surprises, listen to some fabulous music, watch some Oscar winning actors have fun - then this film is for you.


Acting: If you are looking for any female participation in this movie you will be out of luck. It is 1966 - and girls are simply (and simple) pretty little sex objects. Philip Seymour Hoffman as the Count looked like he was enjoying this walk in the park. Bill Nighy as Quentin is always enjoyable to watch. Rhys Ifans as Gavin manages to always make me laugh. The ensemble cast were all fine including: Nick Frost (Dave), Kenneth Branagh (Sir Alistair Dormandy), Tom Sturridge (Carl), Rhys Darby (Angus), Talulah Riley (Marianne), January Jones (Elenore), Katherine Parkinson (Felicity) and Emma Thompson (Charlotte).

Trivia: When director Richard Cutis was in college, his girlfriend left him for a man named Bernard. In each of his screenplays, there is a fairly unpopular character named Bernard. He invented Comic Relief. Bill Nighy, has Dupuytren's Contracture, a hereditary condition which causes the ring and little fingers of each hand to be permanently bent inwards towards the palm. Tom Lodge, who now makes his home in Santa Cruz County, was the first program director of the first rock radio station in England that spawned the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and countless other musical demigods. It's a story being told -- albeit in highly stylized fictional form -- in the new film "Pirate Radio." Lodge said he sent his book and a screenplay based on it to writer/director Curtis but was told that the filmmaker was not interested in working with him. He hopes that the forthcoming publication of the book might one day spark another film to tell the "real" story of Radio Caroline. The main thing that "Pirate Radio" does get wrong is the age of the principal players, Lodge said. "The movie has the owner of the station played by actor Billy Nighy, who is 60. Ronan was 24 years old. We were all just kids. We all had 32-inch waists or less. I don't think there was a waist in the film under 40."

Predilection: None - except for the fact that I have been watching this preview in the movies for over a year and was curious why it took so long to open in the States.

Critters: None

Food: The cook was a female. She was allowed on board because she was a lesbian. I am not sure what she cooked.

Sex Spectrum: Sex, or the discussion of sex was a large part of the film.

Soundtrack: Marvelous

Opening Titles: A short sequence showing the stiff upper lips Government guys who want to shut down these pirate radio ships.

Visual Art: The inside of a ship is not very visually exciting.

Theater Audience: About 20 other AARP rock 'n rollers like me.

Weather: The weather was just fine considering they were in the North Sea.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: 0

Drift Factor: I drifted, like the ship, a bit in the middle.

Predictability Level: High, like the tide.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: No

Big Screen or Rental: Rental would be fine.

Length: Under two hours. Apparently the British version is way over two hours but the film was edited for US audiences.