Pirate Radio (2009) Richard Curtis

Production Budget: $50 million

Worldwide Gross: $36 million

Pirate Radio is supposedly ‘inspired by true events’ (yeah we all know how accurate that is) about the British government basically banning rock music on the radio.  A group of DJ’s set up a mobile radio station on the high seas and out of the jurisdiction of the government to broadcast their music.

Now I say this movie is ‘inspired by true events’ but do not for one second think that you are learning anything at all.  We learn absolutely nothing about the characters prior to meeting them, during our meeting, or after.  Normally movies like these have title cards during the credits talking about the events after like “The ban was lifted in 19-something something” or “This character died in Vietnam” or “This character became a respected musician…then died in Vietnam”.  In fact, all the characters can be boiled down to one dimensional stereotypes: the bad boy, the virgin, the moron, the stoner, the sex maniac, etc.

So yeah, don’t be expecting to learn anything from this movie.  If I were to really classify this movie it would be like Animal House-lite on a boat.  The story is a series of shenanigans repeated by scenes of our resident Dean Wyrmer (played by Kenneth Branagh) wanting to put Pirate Radio on double secret probation.  Most of the shenanigans seem to be about sex in one way or another.  In fact, this is the movie right here: music montage, Branagh talks about shutting down the radio station, the crew gets laid, music, Branagh, virgin gets laid, music, Branagh, one of the crew gets married and the crew sleeps around with the wife, music, Branagh, crew tells sex stories, etc.

I know I seem to be bitching but for what its worth the comedy is charming.  Much of the humor is due to the great cast of actors like Bill Nighy and Phillip Seymour Hoffman.  Even though Hoffman is billed as the main star of the movie (at least in the US) don’t expect too much of him.  I would say each person in the crew gets as much screen time as the other guy.  The music is great (as it should be).  It has many of the hits from the time and does well to pick good songs that aren’t too overplayed.  I almost found it entertaining to have in the background while I cleaned my house today.

Overall this was an alright comedy.  If you were to catch it on the TV or even rent it I doubt you will find it a waste of time.  But at the same time, there isn’t really enough for you to seek it out.  This type of comedy has been done nearly a billion times before and we all know the words by now.  It does nothing to differentiate itself among any other movies in its genre and is content with being the safe/inoffensive little comedy.  Pirate Radio is frankly a movie that will be forgotten in a few months and fade into film obscurity.


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