Oh, the ‘60s: a time of sex, drugs and great rock ‘n’ roll.
“Pirate Radio” is set in 1966 England and promises to be a movie for “drug-takers, law-breakers, and fornicators.” Sadly, “Pirate” fails to really rock the boat.
Soon after the big, bad British government banned rock ‘n roll from the airwaves, several small radio stations took to the seas to broadcast the music that defined a generation. “Pirate Radio” is supposedly about one such ship of renegade DJ’s, lead by The Count (Philip Seymour Hoffman), and their war against the government. “Pirate Radio” is actually about the coming-of-age of the newest crewmember Carl (Tom Sturridge) and his quest to get laid, which has the same awkward and embarrassing moments in any decade.
The audience is left treading water while the film goes back and forth between these two story lines trying to decide which one it wants to fully develop. “Pirate” is at its best when it is focusing on all of the DJ’s on board and their interactions with each other. But these scenes are too few and far between to sustain the entire film. Hoffman, along with Bill Nighy as the station boss, is superb as always, and supplies the film’s funniest moments.
What is maybe most disappointing about “Pirate” is the lack of attention it pays to ‘60s British rock music. When your film premise is banning music from the radio, it might be a good idea to feature some of that music in your movie. This is especially true when that music is from groups like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who.
Skip the movie and buy the soundtrack instead.