Sunday, February 19, 2012

Pirate Radio (2009) - Review

There are some movies that just make you feel good; something just so ridiculous and enjoyable and life-affirming. That is Pirate Radio. Pirate Radio is a (presumably) exaggerated period piece about so-called pirate stations in the UK that would play rock and roll music and the bad bureaucrats who tried to shut them down. Just about everything about this movie is entertaining, and the main thing that causes this is the odd tone. Everything is slightly wacky; but only slightly. There are moments that are sillier than others, but for the most part the film takes a comedic tone with a very thin but noticeable dramatic edge. And just when things seem like they're going to get too silly, the serious moments pull the film back a bit, grounding it, which helps a lot.

The casting in this movie is perfect. There are, of course, a couple big name players like Philip Seymour Hoffman, Nick Frost, and Kenneth Branagh; but much of the rest of the cast is comprised of very funny British actors whose names you ALMOST know. These guys usually get pretty thankless roles but the great thing about this film is that virtually everyone gets to shine with well-written characters and some pretty funny moments from everybody. The film really does have a couple of laugh out loud moments, but these come from a more subtle place than most comedies of the 2000s. It really does prove that British comedy is far more personal and relatable than the majority of American comedy.

The plot is a bit silly, but quite endearing as it plays the "us against the world" rock and roll mentality up to eleven. The government characters are painted with a broad brush and tend to me completely ridiculous, although Kenneth Branagh somehow still keeps it classy even though he's being a complete erratic douchebag. The acting is all stellar, really, particularly from the always-great Philip Seymour Hoffman and relatively unknown lead Tom Sturridge.

The soundtrack is another place where the film shines, taking every chance it can to fit a catchy 60s song into the movie, and even though I'm disappointed by the lack of Beatles, it really is a fantastic soundtrack. And I find that it really captures the feeling of 60s music; fun, a little zany...carefree. It's really one of the more escapist films I've watched in a long while. And that's a nice feeling to have sometimes.

No comments: