Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

Pirate Radio - Good Music, Weak Story

Boy, I really wanted to like Pirate Radio. It even made my list of Top Ten Most Anticipated Movies of the year. What I ended up seeing might make it on my Top Ten List of Most Disappointing Films of the Year.

The film tries to be an ensemble piece, but lacks a story for more than one of its characters. We, as an audience, spend the most time with a young man, Carl (Tom Sturridge), who recently arrives on the boat, perhaps as an up and comer DJ. I like this plot device, having the newbie arrive on the boat, as this allows the audience to feel in this character's shoes when he meets each character on the boat.

Once on the boat young Carl meets include The Count (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), who is a rock-loving DJ, and basically the leader of the boat. He also gets acquainted with many other  characters, none that really mean anything to him. The writers of the film do not really care about the people on the boat, which in turn mean that we, the audience, do not feel for them.

The main plot idea is that these men on the boat are running an illegal radio station, and the government realizes this. The film frequently cuts to the government talking about how these DJ's need to be stopped. That is pretty much all these government officials say, scene after scene.

There are not many laughs, yet when they do come, they come from simply hanging out with the characters. This is very important element to a movie. You need to be able to hang out with the characters, and this is one thing that Pirate Radio does right.

I like Phillip Seymour Hoffman. I think he has deserved all of the recognition he has received. But this film, in my book, goes down as his worst role to date. It was a supporting role, one that provided for very few laughs, and showed no range or skill on Hoffman's part.

The movie was originally titled The Boat that Rocked, a much better title than the simple, think-of-it-in-five-minutes Pirate Radio. This was just the first error made in the film. Throughout the movie, there are boring and undeveloped subplots, as well as moments that are simply useless. Most of the film, which I rarely say, belonged on the cutting room floor, or the DVD's 'Deleted Scenes' Special Feature.

At least the music was used nicely. There were a few fun moments, enhanced by some good music. I was also a little pleased to see how the film makers used this film as an appreciation to rock and roll. I just hope that I can one day see a film with the story of Taking Woodstock, combined with the music of Pirate Radio.

2 1/2 / 5 stars


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