The Boat That Rocked

Film , Comedy
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The Boat That Rocked
‘The Ship That Sank’ would be a more appropriate title for writer-director Richard Curtis’s latest and most disappointing entertainment. It’s a cripplingly self-conscious and self-satisfied tribute to the roistering last days of offshore British mid-’60s pirate radio before the meanies from the ministry pulled the plugs.

It’s also the kind of musical comedy where the actors seem to be having more fun than any audience could ever share. This overlong, poorly paced and slackly directed ship-bound farrago not only wastes its treasury of golden oldies – Hendrix, Kinks, Small Faces etc – but magically contrives to reduce the chaotic, creative spirit of the sexual and cultural revolution to a mere mechanical catalogue of trite and surprisingly sentimental sex-drugs-and-rock ’n’ roll clichés, each fatally underlined by multiple and repetitive reaction shots.

If there are compensations, they come courtesy of a few diverting performances. The movie’s depressingly few incidences of genuine feeling come from Tom Sturridge who is sweet and appealing as the public schoolboy taken under the wing of his godfather, ship’s captain and Radio Rock boss Quentin, played by Bill Nighy as a self-parody in made-to-measure Regency-collared suits. Philip Seymour Hoffman does a turn as the radical, Emperor Rosko-like  DJ in rivalry with Rhys Ifans’s self-serving immoralist Gavin.

Elsewhere, pickings are slim:  the talented Ralph Brown is wasted – he’s cast as Wee Small Hours Bob, a misjudged amalgam, presumably, of ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris and dysarthric Danny from ‘Withnail & I’ – and the same is doubly true of such comic talents as Chris O’Dowd, Rhys Darby and Nick Frost.

Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday May 1 2009
Duration: 135 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Richard Curtis
Screenwriter: Richard Curtis
Cast: Chris O'Dowd
Philip Seymour Hoffman
January Jones
Rhys Darby
Emma Thompson
Kenneth Branagh
Ralph Brown
Gemma Arterton
Nick Frost
Rhys Ifans
Jack Davenport
Talulah Riley
Bill Nighy