The Boat That Rocked (15)
Dir. Richard Curtis
Reviewed by Matt Adcock
All those wishing to travel aboard the latest feel good vessel helmed by Richard ‘Love Actually’ Curtis should make their way to the nearest cinema now. The Boat That Rocked plots a romantic comedy course through the choppy waters of the late sixties when rock music was deemed unhealthy by the repressive Establishment and the British public had to tune in to ‘pirate’ stations to hear filth like The Rolling Stones.
Blessed with a stellar cast including the always excellent Philip Seymour Hoffman as uber DJ ‘The Count’, Rhys Ifans as super cool (and purple wearing) legend of the airwaves ‘Gavin’ and Bill Nighy as captain of the dubious ship Rock Radio ‘Quentin’. These loveable scallywags are ably supported by comic genius Nick ‘Hot Fuzz’ Frost as literally larger than life ‘Dave’ and Tom Wisdom as the leather trouser wearing sex god ‘Midnight Mark’.
Into this sleazy melting pot of sex, drugs and rock n roll on the ocean waves is thrown virginal youngster Carl (a nicely awkward performance from Tom Sturridge) – he sent onboard after being expelled from school by his swinging mother because one of the men on the boat might just be his father…
Arrayed against the pop loving, sea faring miscreants are the forces of law and order embodied by government minister Dormandy (a tightly wound Kenneth Branagh) and his right hand ‘hit’man who rejoices in the name of ‘Twatt’ (an effectively odious turn from Jack Davenport). Can the powers that be shut down the pirates and win the hearts and minds back of the 23million people who tune in the raucous musical banter? The resulting battle of wits is the main dramatic element of the film which is otherwise a two hour series of set pieces set to the funkiest ‘60s tunes (which music lovers may enjoy even more with their eyes shut). The soundtrack is excellent – The Kinks, The Who, Hendrix, Cream, The Beach Boys… even if you weren’t around to appreciate these at the time there will be many who can discover some cracking tracks (handily available on double disk film soundtrack CD).
As the forces of grey and boring close in on the naughty pirates, the film veers into a pseudo dramatic Titanic-esq homage, will the rogue ‘heroes’ meet a watery grave by the end credits? There is the real danger that all hands will be lost as Curtis ramps up the schmaltz and goes for the sentiment jugular but if you’re able to just appreciate this boat for the mildly funny moments it delivers you’ll go home smiling.
Arbitrary Darkmatters final rating of: ööööööö (7 - funky but schmaltzy)
Darkmatters quick reference guide:
Spiritual Enlightenment 4
Not convinced? check out this review of the film over at PictureNose or DEN OF GEEK - best line:
"Remember the 1960s? No? What do you mean you weren't born? What do you mean you were a toddler? Oh, well, Richard Curtis' latest film might still be for you, if you don't mind gulping down a boatload of second-hand nostalgia with your comedy film experience."
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