Sunday, November 15, 2009

'Pirate Radio' Sets Sail

By Caitlin Tadlock

Sassy, classy and cool is Richard Curtis’ (director of “Love Actually”) British comedy “Pirate Radio”, formally known as “The Boat that Rocked”. “Pirate Radio” has an all-star Brit lineup that includes Billy Nighy, Rhys Ifans, Rhys Darby (“Flight of the Concords”), Nick Frost (“Shaun of the Dead”), Tallulah Riley, Emma Thompson and introducing America’s new British muse, Tom Sturridge. The film features only two American leads, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and January Jones (“Mad Men”).

In the 1960’s rock & roll was limited to two hours of BBC play each week in the UK. In “Pirate Radio” a group of radio renegade DJs’ set in the sea, outside the jurisdiction and broadcast rock & roll 24/7. Pirate radio ships got away with a lot of things that are regulated even today by the Federal Communications Commission. In the film the British government stops at nothing to shut down radio rock.

I believe there is a big difference between the UK’s “The Boat that Rocked” and America’s “Pirate Radio”. Even in the movie trailers the two focuses on different themes of the movie. In the British version the trailer revolves around all of the DJs’, the life of new addition Young Carl (Tom Sturridge) and the British government shutting them down. In the American version the trailer focuses almost solely on Philip Seymour Hoffman’s character “The Count” as a sort of rock savior to the ship, which is hardly the major point in the story.

The film seems to be edited heavily for American audience. The story jumped scenarios too quickly and characters and story lines were underdeveloped that made the audience fill-in-the-blank in places. All together “Pirate Radio” had extremely choppy editing. The music was the driving force but the selection was lacking too, understandably they couldn’t dish out the money at the time for any Beatles songs to be featured in the film.

“Pirate Radio” still has its very British sense of humor, which is good. The characters all have their unique trait and their senses of fashion are over-the-top. I’ve been in the radio business since I was 17-years-old and have had the unfortunate opportunity to work with some of the most greasy, grimy money hungry blokes. Today, radio is run by monopoly corporations headed by overweight and soulless beings that only care about website hits and revenue. 40-year-old pop DJs’ jump at the chance to get a picture with Miley Cyrus for the purpose of looking cool to under age kids on Facebook. “Pirate Radio” is refreshing in a way that every rock DJ, news reporter, intern and boss care about what they play and the fans. Basically, music was the driving force for radio.

Even if the movie lacks some historical musical aspects, the “Pirate Radio” soundtrack makes up for its lackluster. The Who, The Kinks, The Turtles, The Beach Boys, Jimi Hendrix and Cream make up a fourth of the two disc album with Duffy being the only current artist featured.

The theatre’s audience on Friday night gave “Pirate Radio” applause when the credits rolled. It was a small crowd, the mindless explosion trash “2012” came out that day, but it got the point across that “Pirate Radio” was a delight to the eyes and ears. I will find a way to purchase the British version “The Boat that Rocked” before I watch or buy “Pirate Radio” again. I have an inkling that the original may be all around better than the export they gave to us ‘mericans.

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