Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

When Radio Ruled the Waves; Music Is the Biggest Star in Richard Curtis's Slice of Nostalgia; FIRST REVIEW

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

When Radio Ruled the Waves; Music Is the Biggest Star in Richard Curtis's Slice of Nostalgia; FIRST REVIEW

Article excerpt

Byline: NICK CURTIS

THE BOAT THAT ROCKED .. .. .. .. ...

YOU'VE got to love Richard Curtis, actually.

He's a one-man Ealing Studios, turning out a reliably funny, upbeat, and above all commercial comedy every few years. It's fashionable to knock his optimistic films but we could all do with a bit of feelgood factor right now.

The Boat That Rocked, which has its premiere at the Odeon Leicester Square tonight, is Curtis's loveletter to the pirate radio stations he adored in his youth. It casts the cream of British comedy acting talent as the motley crew of Radio Rock, broadcasting the devil's music to dolly birds and schoolboys, and flipping two fingers at the British authorities. Like all love letters, it's a bit gushy and over the top in places, but it also lifts the heart.

Expelled from school for smoking, Carl (Tom Sturridge) is dispatched to the care of his godfather Quentin (Bill Nighy), Radio Rock's owner, in the hope he'll gain a moral compass.

"Spectacular mistake!", as the spectacularly louche Quentin says.

The plot, such as it is, concerns Carl's coming of age and the attempts of Kenneth Branagh's uptight minister Sir Alistair Dormandy to sink the stations.

Really, though, this is a broad-brush evocation of a bygone era, furnished with a set of character studies and a cracking Sixties soundtrack.

There's bear-like Philip Seymour Hoffman and cocksure Rhys Ifans vying to see who can be top dog DJ.

There's snarky Nick Frost as cool dude Dr Dave and Rhys Darby, from comedy show Flight Of The Conchords, as an irritating funster clearly modelled on Kenny Everett.

In truth, there are rather too many characters, including Thick Kevin whose comedy value lies in that he's, um, thick. Similarly, Dormandy's sidekick, played by Jack Davenport, is called Twatt. Ho ho. The girls, shipped out once a week to worship the DJs, are dressed like Biba models and the men resemble King's Road fashion plates. …

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