Mixed or average reviews - based on 31 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 72 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: Broadcasting live 24/7 from an old tanker anchored in the middle of the North Sea (just beyond British jurisdiction), Radio Rock sends out a vibrant and unifying signal to millions across the nation, ranging in age from wide-eyed pre-teens secretly tuning in long past their bedtimes to everyday people in need of a musical pick-me-up. The Radio Rock roster, overseen by unflappable station owner (and ship’s captain) Quentin, includes a risk-prone American known only as The Count; mystic deejay royalty Gavin; slyly amorous Dave; idiosyncratic New Zealander Angus; the rarely seen Bob; the aptly named Thick Kevin; lovelorn Simon; ladies’ magnet Mark; shy Harold; reporter News John; and lesbian ship’s cook Felicity. One night in 1966, Quentin’s teenaged godson Carl comes aboard. While Carl harbors romantic aspirations that he hopes will be fulfilled during one of the biweekly visits by Radio Rock’s prettiest fans, he also hopes to find out more about his long-absent father. (Focus Features)

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 31
  2. Negative: 2 out of 31
  1. The best of it has the comradely, free-swinging bawdiness of Robert Altman's "M*A*S*H."
  2. A tale so raucous, raunchy and punch-drunk with love for the rebellious spirit of rawk -- and so disdainful of those who have tried to squelch it -- that it pretty much negates any claims to objectivity, let alone factuality. In other words, it's not a documentary.
  3. 75
    For its wicked innocence, this is the finest rock movie since "Almost Famous."
  4. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Writer-director Richard Curtis (“Love Actually’’) has made a party, not a movie, and if the party goes on much too long, at least the guests are great company and the host’s taste in music is impeccable.
  5. The real pirate radio ships, whose days ended in 1967, wound up being towed away for salvage but the film avoids that fate -- like the best rock songs -- with a rousing finish and a pleasing climax.
  6. Giggles, not belly laughs, come frequently, and it’ll help if viewers love U.K. comics.
  7. Witless, tasteless, toothless, pointless, garish, repetitive, obvious, and painfully dull, Pirate Radio is that exceedingly rare film that never, but never puts a foot right.

See all 31 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 37
  2. Negative: 10 out of 37
  1. phililq
    Nov 30, 2009
    I heard nothing about the movie but was there for pirate radio so of course I went. When the film started with my favorite group I was hooked. The ship is a stage with great actors, characters and non stop comical situations and lines. Expand
  2. SusanW
    Nov 14, 2009
    Watching this film is like having good, fun sex. A tad uneven but with continually enjoyable, occasionally surprising, predictable in all the best ways, and an amazing afterglow. Expand
  3. Jon
    Nov 13, 2009
    I loved this film! One of my favourites of the year and the soundtrack is on my ipod. I can't understand the low reviews, I normally use metacritic for all reviews but think the collaborated reviewers have missed the mark here. Rhys Ivans delivers a stunning role and Bill Nighy is great. Well worth a view. Expand
  4. Feb 16, 2011
    This movie is fun. Listen, no one should go in expecting some kind of brilliant masterpiece, its just a fun little tale with a great soundtrack and a lot of funny moments. It makes me long for the 60s (the time i am most familiar with without having actually lived in it). Great cast too, PSH, Rhys Ifans, Bill Nighy, Rhys Darby (glad to see him getting more exposure) and without a doubt the clincher, Kenneth Brannagh, as the assassin set out to destroy radio rock. I laughed every single time he called upon **** (Jack Davenport) despite it being somewhat juvenile humor. The soundtrack is obviously phenomenal... HOWEVER

    The soundtrack is also a bit inconsistent with history. Being a huge 60s/70s music buff, plenty of songs written and released after 1966 (the date of the film) were used. Songs like Jumpin Jack Flash or Elenore (The Turtles) were written and released in 1968. One scene refers to a new track by The Grateful Dead who didn't come out with their debut album till 1967. The complete absence of The Beatles (except for a little mention in the beginning) is a bit disconcerting, considering they were bigger than jesus at the time. But I accept the fact that there was probably not an awful lot of consideration put into the soundtrack. I mean, a sound track from the 60s is going to be good no matter what, but it seems like they just kind of threw in all kinds of random rock songs from any period of the 60s whether before or after the moment the movie takes place.

    Overall though, it is enjoyable
  5. Sep 26, 2010
    "These are the best days of our lives." -The Count
    Pirate Radio (Richard Curtis's second time in the director's chair) comes six years after
    his impressive directorial début, Love Actually (2003). This time Curtis returns with the theme of love intact, but his lack of a big enough story to fill the near two-hour runtime, threatens to capsize Curtis's rock 'n' roll love boat as waves of unnecessary drama, toss the story about on the rock 'n' roll sea.
    We jump into the Pirate Radio sea in 1966, things are going good for rock n' roll, offshore pirate radio, and the ship, Radio Rock. Which is getting a new crew member, 'Young' Carl (Tom Sturridge), whose mysterious mum (Emma Thompson) feels it's necessary for Carl to spend some time on Radio Rock with his godfather, Quentin (Bill Nighy), who is the captain/manager of Radio Rock, filled with sex, drugs, alcohol, and did I mention, great rock music. Meanwhile, the British government is working to find a loophole to legally cut off Radio Rock's signal. The problem for the government was that the pirate radio stations were doing nothing illegal, so, as one government official points out, if the government doesn't like something, they pass a law to make it illegal. Pirate Radio has a good story to tell, and it needs telling, especially to the younger generation who knows nothing of this kind of censorship, nor the determination and love put forth by the people who risked their livelihood, and even lives, to bring great rock music to millions across the airwaves.
    Many early shots in the film are handheld with fast edits and frantic pacing. As the story evolves and the audience feels at home with the crew of Radio Rock, there are more static shots and less frantic editing. The technique works well here, as the handheld scenes showthe rocking of the boat on the sea, as well as the uncertainty of Radio Rock's future. The heaping helping of rock songs played throughout the film provides most of the soundtrack, and only a few moments have need of a score.
    There's a great cast of known and not-so-well-known actors aboard this ship of rock. Bill Nighy, who leads the expedition, is in top form, as always, delivering his lines in the best of deadpan seriousness (his good news/bad news speech is one of his finest moments). Philip Seymour Hoffman keeps the energy alive as The Count, an American DJ whose love of rock has brought him out to the North Sea. Nick Frost is even on board, with a performance that's not on par with his work in Shaun of the Dead (2004) or Hot Fuzz (2007), but still provides plenty of laughs. The remaining cast members are also good in their roles, and you may find a couple to look out for. I especially enjoyed Thick Kevin (Tom Brooke), whose only revelation comes after a night of drinking, Midnight Mark (Tom Wisdom), who says very little, even when on the radio, and Bob Silver (Ralph Brown), the deadhead who'll do anything to save his records.
    The main flaw of Pirate Radio is too much padded drama with the DJs, most of which takes place over sexual escapades with women, who are only allowed on the boat every other Saturday. It would have been great to see more time spent on real events, instead of fictional spats between characters.
    If you're looking for a (mostly) lighthearted adventure at sea, filled with great rock, and interesting characters, or an excuse to educate the younger generation about the long hard road of 1960s rock 'n' roll, Pirate Radio will keep its mast held high and bring you safely into port.
  6. DanaM
    Nov 23, 2009
    When my wife turned to me and asked if we wanted to leave and go over to the Michael Jackson movie across the hall, I knew it was not her favorite. We stuck it out however to get a few laughs but nothing special. Save your money. Expand
  7. SusannahJ.
    Nov 15, 2009
    Maybe the worst movie I have ever seen, considering my disappointment level. The writing was appalling...didn't at all capture an era I was around for...lazy, stupid...what happened to Curtis, whose films I usuallly love (actually)? Expand

See all 37 User Reviews