I’m sure that I liked this movie more than most people would, so I’m not so much reviewing it as I am selectively recommending it.
If you like stories about scruffy underdogs sticking it to the man in spite of long odds and little hope of success, Pirate Radio is for you.
If you listen to the oldies station on the radio much more than the Top 40 station, Pirate Radio is for you.
If you’re a fan of hi-jinks, pranks, and sexual misadventures, (at least, a fan of these things in films) then Pirate Radio is for you.
Pirate Radio is based on the off-shore British radio stations that played rock and roll music in the 1960s, when the BBC and establishment stations wouldn’t do it. The film opens with young Carl being sent to live onboard the Radio Rock ship with his godfather Quentin (Bill Nighy), the foppish proprietor of the station. There he meets the station’s popular DJs The Count (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Dr. Dave (Nick Frost), and Gavin Kavanagh (Rhys Ifans). Carl soon discovers that Radio Rock may be the worst possible place to go to straighten out.
The movie could fairly be criticized for being shapeless, but I think its episodic nature is a positive. Indeed, upon watching the deleted scenes I was disappointed that they had been cut in an effort to tighten up the plot of the film. One hilarious sequence featured The Count challenging his fellow disc jockeys to drop curse words on the air without being noticed.
What plot there is consists of a British government official (Kenneth Branagh) and his office’s attempts to shut down Radio Rock. Branagh plays his part broadly to encourage mockery. He’s an outrageous caricature of the “stiff-upper-lip” type of Englishman.
It’s a testament to how much I enjoyed the film that I watched all the deleted scenes. I liked the characters so much I just wanted to live a while longer in their world.