Reflections of the Third Eye
25 April 2013
The Boat That Rocked (2009) capsule
Now Playing: New Expression "Good Clean Rock'n'Roll"
Topic: B

Hard to imagine how the producters decided to go with this one, unless they relied on director Richard Curtis to create something out of almost nothing, as he arguably did with Notting Hill. Some highly respected actors lent their services to what is essentially a feel good-movie set in the swinging '60s. Not exactly an original concept, and The Boat That Rocked (aka Pirate Radio) stacks the deck further in its disfavor by having no meaningful storyline whatsoever--unless the recurring threats from politicians to shut the pirate radio boat down is supposed to be the main plot.

The ensemble is a bewildering mix of Oscar winners and near-unknowns, but they line up fairly well for Curtis' patented English coziness (even if he's a Kiwi). Unfortunately, once we know them all, and know that political forces are conspiring, and that rock music is a valuable form of rebellion, the movie discovers it has nothing more to say. The third reel is just a drawn-out closure that goes on for half an hour instead of ten minutes, and the moderate suspense inserted removes most of the viewer's direct connection to the various characters, which had been the work's primary strength. The movie means well and is unlikely to be hated by anyone; what it leaves behind is mainly the question why someone approved a script thinner than an LP record to go into production.

Speaking of LP records, fans of '60s music are likely to get some mileage out of The Boat That Rocked, which has a nice attention to period (c1968) detail, several shocking scenes of rare originals (second Love, second Incredible String Band, first Grateful Dead) falling victim to the cold Nordic Sea, and a good but not great soundtrack that uses Kinks and Small Faces tunes (no Creation or Tomorrow) for good effect but unfortunately can't keep its hands away from "Whiter Shade Of Pale", despite it popping up in dozens of movies over the years. 5/10

Posted by Patrick at Lysergia at 10:01 PM MEST
Updated: 10 August 2013 12:43 AM MEST

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