Richard Curtis has decided to deviate from his usual romantic comedy schtick and present us with sixties nostalia – so how did he do?
The plot is a thinly veiled look at the Radio Caroline story – Caroline, becomes Radio Rock for example.
And it’s not just the boat that’s had it’s name changed – brash American DJ Emperor Rosko is renamed “The Count” and is played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman. The character Bob appears to be a nod to the late John Peel. Bill Nighy plays, well.. you guessed it, Bill Nighy!
As with many Richard Curtis films, there are too many characters and not enough opportunity to get to know them, to care about them and follow their story with interest to the end of the film. Despite the film feeling too long, I got to the end still not feeling I’d “discovered” the characters.
There’s plenty of fun and games on board, the cast appeared to have had a ball filming this. Interestingly though, former Radio Caroline DJ Johnnie Walker said in an article in The Times that his time on the boat wasn’t as fun as on the fictional Radio Rock, and it could get pretty grim.
With Johnnie Walker’s thoughts in mind, it would be interesting to see this subject tackled by another writer – perhaps we’d see tensions – cabin fever, if you will – building between the DJ’s marooned out in the cold North Sea in the winter.
I failed to understand why Curtis thought it was necessary to introduce the teenage lad – was it purely to display the supposed corrupting influence of the top DJs of the time, or to find and an excuse to bring Emma Thompson out to Radio Rock?
Kenneth Branagh’s turn as a Hitleresque London establishment figure was frankly embarrassing, as was the lame humour in naming his sidekick “Twatt”.
Rhys Ifans played the rock star DJ Gavin to perfection, but again, he didn’t have enough material to work with and develop the character.
Watching this as someone from the UK in Australia, with an Australian audience, it became apparent very quickly that many of the references in this film did not travel. The only jokes the Australian audience seemed to get were squarely aimed at Angus the Kiwi DJ! It doesn’t take much to get an Aussie to laugh at a Kiwi!
I’m sure it’s been said before, but The Boat That Rocked didn’t really rock me and all it’s left me wanting is another writer/director to have a go at tackling similar subject matter. Richard Curtis should stick to Hugh Grant and romantic comedies!