Red-letter day, a Richard Curtis movie. Would The Boat That Rocked disappoint the guy who thinks LoveActually is The Greatest Film Ever Made?
No. It was great. Hilarious, heart-warming, exciting. All the familiar faces from Curtis’s previous films (playing largely the same characters) plus the cast of the IT Crowd. It’s a loosely-plotted ensemble piece where each character has an up, a down, and another up. Ralph Brown reprises Danny from Withnail and I; Tom Sturridge does a fine job as Hugh Grant, and Philip Seymour Hoffman takes a part obviously written for Jack Black and does something much more interesting with it.
Weaknesses? Well, it’s not a romantic comedy. The female characters are underwritten, with no motivation other than to seduce our heroes and break their hearts. I suppose you could say it’s embracing 1960’s attitudes.
My other two quibbles are firstly that there is little sense of time passing, because although the film takes place over a year, it’s always summer, even when we cut away to radio listeners in the UK. I’m guessing this wasn’t done by choice or an oversight, but a budget issue; after all, part of the romance of pirate radio is the thought of them broadcasting through wind and hail.
Quibble two is the conclusion. The final irony of pirate radio is that the stars it created rapidly became part of the broadcasting establishment. I’d like to have seen that. It could even have given the antagonist, Ken Branagh, some resolution; he could've been given the job of running Radio One and we could’ve seen black-and-white snaps of the cast on the steps of Broadcasting House with their former nemesis lighting their cigars.
Oh, and it should’ve been called Rock The Boat. And why isn’t there a boat on the poster?