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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
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POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
TBC
Cast
Rhys Ifans
Nick Frost
Bill Nighy
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Tom Sturridge
Kenneth Branagh
.
Directors
Richard Curtis.
Screenwriters
Richard Curtis.
Running Time
TBC minutes

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The Boat That Rocked
Richard Curtis Pumps Up The Volume


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Plot
As the ‘60s get into their musical stride, the establishment furiously restricts radio airplay. It’s up to the pirate radio stations a-bob in the North Sea, just like Radio Rock, to flood the airwaves with tunes and spiky banter. Life onboard, however, isn’t always groovy...


Review
The Boat That Rocked
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As he is prone to remind interviewers, writer-director Richard Curtis’ true passion is not the dithering trials of being a middle-class English twit in the throes of misbegotten love (as his post-Blackadder career might suggest), but pop music. Specifically, that dreamscape of ’60s tunes broadcast from illicit vessels crewed by louche DJs living the unfettered dream, albeit fed on tinned sardines and only granted a shag every other Saturday. It doesn’t take a rock historian to detect a thinly veiled take on the legendary Radio Caroline, or a film academic to notice that his new film is not a love song to long-distance women but sweet rock ’n’ roll.
 
While the film bursts at the seams with salty fun, energised by Curtis’ boyish enthusiasms (he is genetically incapable of muffling his prep-school optimism) and a joyous soundtrack, it is also hampered by those same predilections. His approach to edgier material proves as squidgy as The Vicar Of Dibley: drugs are mentioned but hardly feature, and any suggestion of genuine conflict among the scallywag jockeys — mainly betwixt Rhys Ifan’s slickster Gavin and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Beat-styled import The Count — is nudged aside to make room for inoffensive hijinx. This is more a celebration of schoolboy naughtiness than musical rebellion. Although a magnificent Ralph Brown as through-the-night groove-master ‘Bob’ is so immersed in music, the rest of the crew haven’t noticed he’s even onboard.
 
There is a conflict here between the material and Curtis’ devotion to it. He creates too many characters for any to take hold, the DJs primitively divided into cool-cats or idiots. Yet the actors and actor-comedians (Chris O’Dowd: really impressive) revel in the milieu, and despite the throng, manage moments to shine. But they are only ebbs of story, roughly assembled around the coming-of-age of Tom Sturridge’s new recruit — a quest that peculiarly echoes that of Bertolucci’s Stealing Beauty, in that he tries to both locate a missing father and at some point, please, pop his cherry. Below decks, it’s all MASH meets The Young Ones.
 
And yet, a dry-docked subplot has Kenneth Branagh as a government stiff so caricatured he comes off as a stiff-lipped replica of Blakey from On The Buses, the film also echoing that tittering ’70s ribald tradition of the scamps vs. the prudes.
 
Then, the script is only fitfully Curtis-good. Twenty years ago, in Blackadder’s final series he christened a character “Darling” to blinding effect — every namecheck a snark of marital discontent. Now we wearily endure a character going by the name “Twatt”, and that is the sorry gag.
 
If this all sounds overly down, it doesn’t dismiss a valiant wriggle against the grip of the rom-com, or the effortlessness with which it passes by. And that buoying sense of camaraderie that is Curtis’ gift remains. The final 20 minutes, gently mocking Titanic as the boat comes to ruin, are the best in the film. The troupe’s valiant last stand, amid flooding ‘decks’, ironically steadies the film, and delivers the memorable image of LP sleeves — in lieu of Cameron’s crockery — drifting hauntingly into the deep.


Verdict
A mix-tape of successes and failures, perhaps too light for its subject, but a silly, easy watch.


Reviewed by Ian Nathan

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for The Boat That Rocked
Empire Star Rating

Instant Classic

If you called that a misfire, EMPIRE, it is probably time to stop buying you. And no, Man of Steel is no 4-stars experience. It's fucking moronic. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bereski at 09:57, 29 August 2013 | Report This Post


Why the hating?

come on! i don't understand the bad reviews! it's classic Curtis, funny, a little quirky, and containing some of the finest music of the 50s/60s, and some brilliant acting. I really could make a bigger effort with this review but i'm tired and going to watch notting hill ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Swedle at 19:53, 10 January 2012 | Report This Post


Meh.

Well I actually rather liked it, its a typical Sunday afternoon movie. I laughed so much and the actors were very honest and believable. Admittedly there are bits that were rather slow and could do with some work and there were points where the ending could've been put. But it weren't a bad film! -not a masterpiece but not one for the bin at least. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by DarbyDaresYou at 12:53, 10 October 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Wonderful, daft, and hugelyfunny

The Boat That Rocked Apart from being a candidate for Best Soundtrack Ever, this is a breezy comedy drama about a pirate radio station during the 60s, sticking it to the man and giving people what they want to hear - rock 'n' roll baby yeah. A proper ensemble piece which tries to pay justice to each character (as much as is possible), and, as I felt I knew enough about each of them to care about the resolution of their collective and personal stories by the end, it works reasonably... More

Posted by KeithM at 00:09, 03 May 2011 | Report This Post


Wonderful, daft, and hugelyfunny

What a mean spirited review - criticisng a comedy for being funny and for not having enough dark conflict and angst - Ho Hum, usual Empire predilictions showing again - you must be a very dour lot in the office... My family laughed their socks off. Fantastic ensemble, fantastic writing, great filming - a classic, as you will eventually understand... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by The Voice of Fate at 09:51, 04 February 2010 | Report This Post


Low-level writing. Great cast but irection. Indeed, this is The Boat that . ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by nc_jj at 20:54, 05 January 2010 | Report This Post


The Movie That Sucked

Boring slow moving and just plain Dreadful ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by S1lent B0b at 17:36, 19 September 2009 | Report This Post


RE: The Boat That Rocked

Just managed to catch this before it left one of the smallest screens in the West End.  I must admit the trailer had put me off a bit as had the myriad of mediocre reviews but despite those (and myself), I did find myself laughing.   This is a film with problems, make no mistake.  It is far too long by a good 20-30 mins and some of the subplots are completely unnecessary.  Likewise, it definitely feels like there were more strands of the film that went missing - did we r... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Groovy Mule at 22:11, 09 June 2009 | Report This Post


RE: The Boat That Rocked

this has to be the funniest film i have seen i ages!!!!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Moviebabe at 15:33, 06 May 2009 | Report This Post


RE: The Boat That Rocked

]As a film at the cinema the boat that rocked is good as it has a sufficient amount of good standard humour to keep the audience happy. It also has a killer soundtrack with all the greats played at what seems the most perfect moments. Standout performances include Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Bill Nighy as always. However the film is way too long for this type of film it feels that there were atleast two suitable places for endings prior to the eventual climax. Also there are like 5 different su... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by sam_stewart at 22:39, 05 May 2009 | Report This Post


A Boat that really rocks.

I have a soft spot for Richard Curtis. I think critics are always far to harsh on him when his films really only want to be a celebration of the best parts of life. Therefore, I think that "The Boat That Rocked" is an utterly fantastic and amazing film, which is hilarious and dramatic in equal parts, and provides enough room for solidly fantastic performances where, handled by a lesser director, would have become simple, one-sided characters. Hoffman's The Count is a joyous character, ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Pinguman at 11:31, 27 April 2009 | Report This Post


RE: The boat that NEARLY rocked

I really liked this film thought twas the best curtis film as it doesn't have the soppy romance crap, it's just about friendship and i thought that really worked, also it doesn't have andy mcdowell ... More

Posted by musht at 18:10, 21 April 2009 | Report This Post


RE: The boat that NEARLY rocked

Boring. Not funny. Awful. I really, really hated it. 1/5 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Mr E at 23:05, 20 April 2009 | Report This Post


The boat that NEARLY rocked

This definitely made for a fairly enjoyable Saturday night at the cinema but it's far from Curtis' best. It wasn't as funny as I'd expected it to be despite an excellent cast (who all do good turns) and it's too long. I thought the 'Titanic' bit at the end was a bit drawn out so I have to disagree with the Empire review on that point. Could have been a lot more fun I think but overall not a bad effort. Will definitely appeal to those who grew up in that era and you can't fault the soundtrack. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by trueborndjross at 13:14, 20 April 2009 | Report This Post


Sadly, Very Poor

I like Richard Curtis's work. Hell I even enjoyed Love Actually, but this is a very poor film. The good things about it ? Philip Seymour Hoffman is as watchable as ever. The Soundtrack is pleasant and the end is typically life affirming. But the bad points ? 1. It is far too long, scenes which should be over in a flash are dragged out to the point of anger inducing tedium. 2. It is lazily written with far too many two dimensional characters. Kenneth Branagh is an authority figure, oh lets... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by walkcookwatch at 09:27, 19 April 2009 | Report This Post


RE: The Boat That Rocked

The Boat That Rocked had great potential,and it does sometimes convey how exciting the emergence of rock n roll was in the 60s,with some great bits of people secretly listening to the radio.  However,it's generally a stumbling mess.  Despite some fine performances from the likes of Rhys Ifans,Philip Seymour Hofffman and Bill Nighy,the script generally stays at one level rely changes,while all the women turn out to be tarts.  A token lesbian is appallingly written e villianous pol... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dr Lenera at 21:14, 14 April 2009 | Report This Post


RE: The Boat That Rocked

This film is brilliant. A film equal parts comedy and drama. 100% engrossing, with characters you care about and love. Set in the most awesome era of the 20th century. There's rockin' music, and a finale so poignant that it should silence all naysayers. All the acting is pitch-perfect, all technical aspects of the film are perfectly judged and without ego, and the experience as a whole is unforgettable. I cannot overstate how enjoyable this film is. It's pure unadulterated fun of the highe... More

Posted by Squidward Hark Bugle at 18:28, 14 April 2009 | Report This Post


MASTERPIECE

This film is brilliant. A film equal parts comedy and drama. 100% engrossing, with characters you care about and love. Set in the most awesome era of the 20th century. There's rockin' music, and a finale so poignant that it should silence all naysayers. All the acting is pitch-perfect, all technical aspects of the film are perfectly judged and without ego, and the experience as a whole is unforgettable. I cannot overstate how enjoyable this film is. It's pure unadulterated fun of the highest ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Squidward Hark Bugle at 18:22, 14 April 2009 | Report This Post


RE: The Boat That Rocked

In an age of stultifying mundanity, the meaningless can assume the appearance of profundity. In this context, pop culture occupies a position once inhabited by religion, family and art. The natural consequence of the vacuity of modern existence is Richard Curtis's The Boat That Rocked. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by robbiescarfe at 13:32, 10 April 2009 | Report This Post


RE: The Boat That Rocked

I really wanted to like this. A film with a funny & talented cast, good if a little obvious soundtrack and the type of rebellious, underdog story I would normally like. However Curtis's indulgence in creating 2 dimensional, emotionally confused characters & furfilling the film with every swinging 60's cliche under the sun completely spoiled it for me. Plus it's not funny, which considering the amount of comic talent involved is a crime. The "Darling" gag in Blackadder worked, the "... More

Posted by Qwerty Norris at 23:42, 08 April 2009 | Report This Post


The Boat That Rocked

The Boat That Rocked isn't a movie - it's a sitcom or, worse still, a two-hour sketch show. These sketches consist of The IT Crowd's Chris O Dowd getting married, Hoffman and Ifans challenging each other to a game of chicken, Tom Sturridge loosing his virginity and Thick Kevin being thick. The series of sketches are linked into some shape of a story by Dormandy (Kenneth Branagh) and Twatt (Jack Davenport) - a name that gets endless mileage and shows the level of humour here - in the British Gov... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by moviemaniac2 at 19:53, 07 April 2009 | Report This Post


RE: The Boat That Rocked.

L: rancorpuppet There was a film script kicking about Stephen Woolley's production offices based on the life of Kenny Everett that took in some of the exploits of the radio pirates moored off Frinton-On-Sea. The script sounded on million times better than the tepid piss Curtis could be expected to serve up here, most exciting being that David Tennant had actually been in a discussion about prospectively playing Kenny. sp; That would have been interesting. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Cruisecontroller at 14:39, 07 April 2009 | Report This Post


RE: The Boat That Rocked.

There was a film script kicking about Stephen Woolley's production offices based on the life of Kenny Everett that took in some of the exploits of the radio pirates moored off Frinton-On-Sea. The script sounded on million times better than the tepid piss Curtis could be expected to serve up here, most exciting being that David Tennant had actually been in a discussion about prospectively playing Kenny. ... More

Posted by rancorpuppet at 22:35, 06 April 2009 | Report This Post


RE: The Boat That Rocked.

Underrated comedy about British pirate radio in the Sixties pre Radio 1 from Richard Curtis. Great cast and soundtrack, really good and funny script and with characters that I did care about contary to what some sniffy critics have said. There are moments that are like a Carry On movie but if you liked Richard Curtis work pre rom com movies with Hugh Grant (who thankfully isn`t in it) you should like maybe even love this. It makes a refreshing change for him to do something diffe... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Cruisecontroller at 15:58, 06 April 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Makes "Titanic " look like an Epic !!!!......

L: Tech_Noir Not seen this film but it deserves an award for worst title ever. t That RockedI mean seriously, t That Rockedquote] Rock The Boat would have been better... ... More

Posted by UTB at 17:20, 05 April 2009 | Report This Post


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