“Pirate Radio” Movie Review

“Pirate Radio” is a dandy of a film, giving a great deal of attention to the meaning of camaraderie and the spirit of doing what you believe in, which in this case is the power of music. The movie opens with text informing us that in the 1960s rock music in England was a bit turbulent, and in order to side-step the legal tape radio stations would set up on boats in the ocean. We follow a young man who is sent to stay with the ship’s Captain, his godfather, and he’s introduced to the world of rock radio on the high seas with an eclectic group of DJs, rocking the airwaves 24/7.

Why you’ll like this:
Great 60s rock music and vibe, fun characters and a charismatic spirit.

“Pirate Radio” manages to seamlessly strike a chord of familiarity while maintaining its originality. Everyone feels authentic, the characters all feel totally fleshed out with nuance and a line of quirks you’d imagine 60s rock DJs would have. The cast work in blissful harmony, the friction seems real but always with an underlying sense of fondness for each other. Just like any good work environment should have. The plot itself rarely advances, instead opting for “day in the life” novelties and hi-jinx, which suited me just fine in this case.

The music is sublime, as it should be. What good would a movie surrounding 60s music be if it didn’t rock? Thankfully, the soundtrack is great and completely underlines everything going on in the lives of the hippy seamen. A lot of tracks will be familiar, but there’s also a few that I didn’t recognize and loved hearing something new from an era gone. Featuring tracks from The Beach Boys to Smokey Robinson and everything in-between, a sonic pleasure.

Why you won’t like this:
No structured plot, and no historical accuracy.

I think what amazed me most was turning to the DVD Extras and finding that there was an additional 40 minutes of unused footage, and nearly all of it was just as good as what made the cut. I highly advise watching the deleted scenes, just skip past the bureaucratic stuff, it felt limp and unnecessary in both the theatrical cut and deleted scenes. Personally, I was enthused at the credits’ sequence when there’s hundreds of album covers roving the screen, particularly because there were a lot of rap albums and I love the nod towards what should be considered a genre that is truly a nod toward the spirit of rock ‘n roll. Back when radio-waves were still plundered by the steel nerves of castaway pirates.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Nick Frost
Director: Richard Curtis
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hr. 54 min.
Release Date: November 13, 2009