This movie is an ensemble comedy in which the romance takes place between the young people of the 1960s and pop music. It’s about a band of rogue DJs that captivated Britain, playing the music that defined a generation and standing up to a government that wanted classical music, and nothing else, on the airwaves. The Count (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a big, brash, American god of the airwaves; Quentin (Bill Nighy), the boss of Radio Rock – a pirate radio station in the middle of the North Sea that’s populated by an eclectic crew of rock and roll DJs; Gavin (Rhys Ifans), the greatest DJ in Britain who has just returned from his drug tour of America to reclaim his rightful position; Dave (Nick Frost), an ironic, intelligent, and cruelly funny co-broadcaster; and a fearsome British government official out for blood against the drug takers and lawbreakers of a once-great nation.
User Reviews: Richard Curtis’ first ‘non romantic comedy film’ is really another romantic comedy film- it’s just that the romantic bit gets swamped within 20 other sub-plots so you try and not notice.
The Boat That Rocked sees Carl ( Tom Surridge ) go aboard Radio Rock- a pirate radio station owned by Quentin ( Bill Nighy ) whose DJ’s (Phillip Semour Hoffman, Rhys Ifans, Nick Frost, Chris O’ Dowd, Rhys Darby, etc. ) broadcast 24-hour rock and roll music to the UK. They are adored by the populace but hated by the government, including the Minister of Communications ( Kenneth Branagh ) and his chief subordinate ( Jack Davenport ) who aim to shut them down.
If that was the extent of the plot then it would probably be a 100 mins film. However the Boat That Rocked has so many little sub-plots- many seeming like excuses to put in another montage or cameo cast appearance that the time has ballooned out to 154mins and it does tell at times. Furthermore, while Richard Curtis is entitled to look back on these days with an air of nostalgia, he sometimes seems to get a little too weepy eyed with the story.
But these faults are more than made up for in the performances; all of which are good- and some are outstanding. Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s Count is a lovable character who approaches everything with great gusto, while Chris O’ Dowd’s Simple Simon has a wonderful part in the middle section of the movie which brings a little bit of emotion to what is a pretty emotionally vacant movie. Nick Frost is cheeky as Dr Dave and finally Rhys Darby- fresh from Flight of the Conchords- simply shines in his role as the unpopular and daggy Angus who nonetheless gets arguably the best line in the whole movie.
Overall the Boat That Rocked is silly and entertaining fun. It does get overweight by a looong script, but the soundtrack and the cast are good enough to carry it through.