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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pirate Radio (2009) Comedy

Pirate Radio (2009) - Written and directed by Richard Curtis. It is 1967 and England has banned rock and roll radio, setting up our story of a pirate radio ship off the coast. Carl (Tom Sturridge)arrives on the boat after being dismissed from his all boy boarding school to find a place on the boat with his Godfather and ship owner Quentin (Bill Nighy). His entire story arc consists of losing his virginity and figuring out who on the boat is his father. Surrounding Carl on this journey is a quirky group of DJs each a distinct personality. Philip Seymour Hoffman is The Count, and rival to Gavin (Rhys Ifans) the hotshot American DJ brought on to increase advertising. Their competition is fulfilled through a game of chicken on the ship mast that was inevitable. Playing the heavies in the movie are Kenneth Branagh as Sir Alistair Dormandy the goverment head looking for a way to close down the pirate radio stations, and Jack Davenport as Twatt his henchman doing the actual work. They finally look like they have the answer outlawing the stations and are going to close the ship but can't find it. The ship after illegally broadcasting decides to move. Problem is the ship hits something and sinks leading to the wonderful Titanic style sinking scenes. Left out in the ocean sinking the mayday out the last bit of drama is will they be saved.
In general this is a light hearted story the dramas are small and personal. The audience I was in was mostly people in there 50s through 70s and they just loved it movie with laughter at the right times and smiles all around at the end. Particularly they seemed to enjoy there was a character named Twatt, each time his name was mentions there were giggles around the theater. I found the film passable throw away entertainment but at times I was really annoyed at the movie making. Twatt being one of the things such a easy play for cheap laughs. Then there were the different character pieces like eating the cookies, that were so cute and contrived that they did not feel genuine. If I was to really get down to what I did not like about this film it is that it was too obvious in its emotional manipulations, all movies through character and story attempt to create an emotional response but here it was too out front. When we get to the end and you learn the government is not coming to save the crew as the boat sinks, there is no doubt what they are setting you up for. When the Count and Gavin are on the mast there is no doubt what they will do. When the Count continues to spin records as the ship goes down there is no doubt what will happen to him. When it is proposed that Carl's Dad might be Quinten we know it can't be, and since we know most all the other characters from there spotlight time you should be able to guess who it is. Each piece is so perfectly written and played that it is obvious and thus not really very enjoyable. Still I think I can be a bit jaded at times and most people in the theater really seemed to like this film. I will chalk it up to being that this is just not my kind of movie. What was enjoyable for me was the music in the film, Jimi Hendrix, The Kinks, Procol Harem, Dusty Springfield, The Who, just so many great songs on this sound track.
Rating (6.0)

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