I saw this one on the Etihad flight from Abu Dhabi to Heathrow and it deserves a review all of its own. The Boat That Rocked is a typical UK ensemble comedy with a great cast. A couple of free white wines may have helped, but I was snorting away and laughing out loud at some points; almost in tears at others.
What makes this such a good film – aside from the wealth of acting talent – is the fact that the central plot revolves around something I care about. Freedom of choice, a fight against censorship and the underdog having a good go at an overbearing authority. It’s also got a superb soundtrack, several plot threads and some great segments in the end credits.
Plot in a nutshell: It’s 1966 and rock’n'roll is booming. Except in the UK where the only radio – BBC – plays about 40 minutes per week of popular music. Feeding off the demand, pirate radio stations start up and are an instant hit with the masses… and reviled by the authorities who do all they can to shut them down. The film follows the adventures of the staff on one ship over the course of a year or so until the final closedown of pirate radio by the British government.
Bill Nighy plays Bill Nighy (as he always does) with aplomb, running the ship and the station. Philip Seymor Hoffman is The Count, the headlining American DJ. Nick Frost is the disgusting Dave, Rhys Darby the Kiwi Angus, Rhys Ifans the self-proclaimed king of the airwaves Gavin… and so on. Not a bad actor amongst them. Despite the large number of main parts, nobody gets lost and each character has their own personality.
As well as the Good Morning, Vietnam-esque DJ segments and good guy v bad guy plot, there is a lot of romance and bawdy sex (nothing too offensive, though not 100% family friendly by any shot). Nighy’s character has a godson who ends up on the ship after being thrown out of school. He’s our entry into the world of Radio Rock and introduction to the aforementioned characters and lifestyle.
The following two hours are a wonderful mix of highs and lows. Characters don’t always get on – who would living in such cramped quarters? – creating some great conflicts which go right over the top at times.
Of course, the soundtrack is superb being based on the music of the late 60s. The closing montage mentions that “rock and roll had a pretty good 40-or-so-years” flashing up more and more recent album sleeves. However, who on earth decided to include Take That And Party as on a par with the likes of BloodSugarSexMagic and Rattle & Hum needs shot.
Definitely catch this one.
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- The Boat That Rocked Domestic Trailer (cinemablend.com)
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- Info / Movie Review for The Boat That Rocked (2009) (movieeveryday.blogspot.com)
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