User Score
6.4

Generally favorable reviews- based on 81 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 57 out of 81
  2. Negative: 14 out of 81
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  1. Mar 22, 2011
    6
    Great soundtrack! The movie that came with it was a little distracting though. But in all seriousness, Pirate Radio is a fun-but-flawed period piece of when Rock and Roll on the radio was all but illegal in 1960's Britain. The cast gives out mixed performances with a borderline-mediocre job from the protagonist and a pretty poorly-developed baddie. However, the pros outweigh the cons inGreat soundtrack! The movie that came with it was a little distracting though. But in all seriousness, Pirate Radio is a fun-but-flawed period piece of when Rock and Roll on the radio was all but illegal in 1960's Britain. The cast gives out mixed performances with a borderline-mediocre job from the protagonist and a pretty poorly-developed baddie. However, the pros outweigh the cons in this case, being more of a guilty pleasure than anything. Expand
  2. Sep 26, 2010
    6
    "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
    "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.
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  3. JamesH
    Jun 25, 2010
    6
    The music is great and it is a fun and entertaining movie. It is lacking a much needed spark however. It doesn't develop the characters enough and there are a few to many slow patches as well. It's a good concept, but it does wear thin after while and loses steam halfway through. Very well acted by all and the score makes it worth watching.
  4. JimS
    Nov 24, 2009
    5
    Slow to find its legs, this was a disappointing film. The scenes with the British politicians stole the show. Honestly, it would have been better as a rock opera. It also would have been much better if they played the full songs through instead of cutting them short. An unsatisfying mix of British style comedy, one dimensional characters, and a lackluster portrayal of a fabulous era.
  5. DanaM
    Nov 23, 2009
    4
    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.
  6. ChadS
    Nov 16, 2009
    6
    He's mentored before, the great Phillip Seymour Hoffman, quite memorably, in Cameron Crowe's "Almost Famous", who as legendary rock journalist Lester Bangs, teaches young William Miller(Patrick Fugit), a cub reporter for "Rolling Stone" magazine, to be "ruthless", and above all else, to not make friends with the rock stars. Carl(Tom Sturridge), the godson of the floating pirate He's mentored before, the great Phillip Seymour Hoffman, quite memorably, in Cameron Crowe's "Almost Famous", who as legendary rock journalist Lester Bangs, teaches young William Miller(Patrick Fugit), a cub reporter for "Rolling Stone" magazine, to be "ruthless", and above all else, to not make friends with the rock stars. Carl(Tom Sturridge), the godson of the floating pirate station's owner(played by Bill Nighy), is the right mentoring age, but "The Boat That Rocked"(the original UK title), much like the Demitri Martin character in Ang Lee's "Taking Woodstock", allows a non-fan to be our entry point into the rock and roll milieu. Hoffman, playing an American deejay named "The Count", loves rock and roll; his rival, Gavin(Rhys Ifans), also loves the most vibrant of musical genres, but its importance is secondary to the women that the job of spinning vinyl procures. (These willing girls seem to confuse disc jockeys for actual musicians.) Carl, a virgin, is more enamored by the groupies than rock and roll, and that's, as the late Fats Domino would say, "a shame", because it would have given both Quentin's godson and the American more to do. At times, "Pirate Radio"(the inferior US title) seems too preoccupied with comic bits that are irrelevant to the deejays' job of rockin' England. (And the dramatic ones with Kenneth Branagh, as a government official trying to shut Radio Rock down, get repetitive.) Carl could have been the film's vehicle which took the moviegoer closer to the music. Disappointingly, he's merely an observer to its spirit. Hoffman goes it alone. Unlike Gavin, "The Count" is no chicken; he's willing to die for rock and roll. (***SPOILER ALERT***) When the ship goes down, Carl should have been at the Hoffman character's side, enduring the onrushing sea water while spinning The Beach Boys' "Wouldn't It Be Nice", to help assure rock radio's survival. "The Count" is the only true believer. "Pirate Radio" can be construed as a metaphor; it reflects the current state of the rock format, which is losing handily to talk radio stalwarts like Rush Limbaugh, and others of his ilk. Expand
  7. CarolynM
    Nov 19, 2009
    6
    Good, though not very original, performances. We should have waited for the DVD's release, and I recommend you do that.
Metascore
58

Mixed or average reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 31
  2. Negative: 2 out of 31
  1. Reviewed by: Ian Nathan
    60
    A mix-tape of successes and failures, perhaps too light for its subject, but a silly, easy watch.
  2. 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.
  3. Reviewed by: Derek Elley
    50
    Picture generally stays afloat on the strength of its characters but sometimes threatens to sink under its overlong running time and vignettish structure.