The Boat That Rocked

Richard Curtis and crew do pirate radio, actually

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THE BOAT THAT ROCKED
DIRECTED BY Richard Curtis
STARRING Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Rhys Ifans


***

The films of Richard Curtis aren’t exactly what you’d call canon here at Uncut, so it might come as some surprise to find him taking a detour from his West London comfort zone to encroach, shockingly, on the fringes of our own heartland: Sixties’ pirate radio. As a seasoned sitcom writer, you’d imagine Curtis would find plenty of comedy in the idea of disparate characters effectively trapped with one another on a boat.

With The IT Crowd’s Chris O’Dowd and Katherine Parkinson, Flight Of The Conchords’ Rhys Darby and Spaced’s Nick Frost among the station’s staff and DJs, the first 40 minutes crackles along, while the dynamic between Kenneth Branagh’s scheming minister and Jack Davenport as his No 2 calls to mind Melchett and Darling in Blackadder Goes Forth.

It’s fun enough, and the nostalgia for 7” vinyl, Anna Karina lookalikes and taboo-busting on-air swearing is warm and well-intentioned. But Curtis tries to juggle too many storylines, giving none of them enough time to develop. A final act swerve into disaster movie territory is also ill-advised. Still, Bill Nighy is superb, here playing Bill Nighy as the station’s rakish boss.

MICHAEL BONNER

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