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From the creator of Love Actually and Notting Hill comes a trip back to the freewheeling, free-loving ’60s when the very rock music that inspired a generation was censored by the government. When a group of rebellious deejays decides to defy the ban, they take to the seas to broadcast music and mayhem to millions of adoring fans. Featuring a soundtrack that includes The Who, The Kinks, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones and many more, it’s a feel-great film based on a true story that critics cheer is “exuberant!” John Powers, Vogue
Pirate Radio recalls American teen exploitation films of the 1950s, in which square authority figures wanted to keep rock 'n' roll's corrupting influence from children, who just wanted to dance. Though set in 1966 Great Britain, this high-spirited comedy will strike a resonant chord in anyone who ever snuck their transistor radio under their pillow at night to have their world rocked. Musically, 1966 was the best of times the killer soundtrack spins a Who's Who of vintage vinyl, including the Kinks, the Rolling Stones, Dusty Springfield, and, yes, the Who. But the kids weren't alright. The BBC broadcast less than an hour of rock music a day. Pirate radio stations broadcasting from ships anchored off the coast exemplified rock's rebellious spirit. Like Almost Famous, Pirate Radio views this outlaw world through the eyes of an innocent, Carl Tom Sturridge, sent by his mother Emma Thompson in a saucy cameo to the good ship Radio Rock, operated by his godfather a dapper Bill Nighy. He comes aboard a "posh tosser," but he gradually forges a bond with these fellow misfits who have dedicated their lives to making musical waves. Richard Curtis, who wrote and directed Love, Actually and wrote Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill, has assembled a see-worthy crew, including Philip Seymour Hoffman as the Count, the scruffy resident Yank; Rhys Ifans as Gavin, his rival; Nick Frost as randy Dave; and Rhys Darby from Flight of the Conchords as fall guy Angus. Curtis doesn't run the tightest of ships. He's a bit montage-happy, and he allows Kenneth Branagh to go overboard as the uptight politician bent on shutting Radio Rock down. Some, too, may carp that several of the songs weren't made for those times. But if you're going to lose your virginity, it's best lost to Herb Albert's 1968 ballad "This Guy's in Love with You." While a bit choppy, we rate Pirate Radio at least a 7: it's got a great cast, an even better beat, and you can dance to it. --Donald Liebenson