The Boat That Rocked

Film, Comedy
2 out of 5 stars
3 out of 5 stars
(345user reviews)
‘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

Release date:
Friday May 1 2009
135 mins

Cast and crew

Richard Curtis
Richard Curtis
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

Average User Rating

2.9 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:144
  • 4 star:17
  • 3 star:5
  • 2 star:3
  • 1 star:176
1 person listening

I really enjoyed this slapstick, good ol' style fun comedy. It tells the story of pirate radio and as is ever the way with Richard Curtis films, it includes all of his favourite actora (Bill Nighy, Emma Thompson... blah blah). 

All of the actors are exactly their typecast and it works very well. A few funny one-liners and the odd laugh out loud moment. Yes. the story is silly, but the soundtrack is good and you'll have a giggle for an hour or two. I'd recommend it. 

You sir, are mistaken. Your harsh review is neither accurate, nor remotely interesting to read. The film was fantastic, I'd like to see you, dear critic, write and direct something better.

I think the film was good when I saw it- now weeks after I think it was great. I have spent so much time reading up on Radio Caroline and Pirate Stations of the 60's since. It is a pity the plastic commercila stations of today in the UK are not anywhere as exciting as the Mythical Radio Rock! I am sure this film will do well when released on DVD Bless the memory of those Pirates!!!!

What a rubbish review. The film was excellent and very funny, I enjoyed the music, and I think that this review is entirely unfair and over-negative. It seems to me that comedies are no longer accepted as good films anymore. What a shame.

to claire this film seems to be either loved or hated i think that if you lived through the 60's it helped to hear your favourite single 3 or 4 times a day was totally unbelievable thanks for the memory

what on earth is the matter with you people? The Boat that Rocked...well it rocked! I loved it and would easily pay to see it fact I hope I get the DVD for Christmas. I am not a regular cinema goer so am not an expert by any means but I know what I like - and I liked this so can everyone else please stop being so nasty about it??

I loved this movie! Lots of laughs, sountrack amazing, I would have loved to live in the 60ies :-)

i thought the film was wicked! I enjoyed the light heartedness, the britishness and the one liners. No its not a box office movie, but its not as sh*t as everybody is making it out to be! At all! Sounds like all these people who have rated the film, are those who like to complain about everything!

A laugh-a-minute film for people of a certain age group, those who lived through the era when pop music could only be heard via pirate radio stations. The soundtrack was memorable, the storyline hilarious. One of the best films I have ever seen!

I thought this film was hilarious - really enjoyed it from start to finish. It is light hearted, had a fantastic soundtrack and had plenty of laugh out loud moments. Its never going to be oscar worthy but it does what it does very well!

Well acted, well cast, really funny, good photography. Were you lot watching the same film? I was around then and this brought it all back. Many depictions of real incidents. JW was called 3 minute Walker I seem to remember. Had trears running, you are right the cast seemed to have been enjoying making the film. And that is why it will be viewed as a classic in years to come. Watch it again is my advice. Even if you were not around in the 60's you will really enjoy the naive innoncence of the establishment. But they changed the world of radio for ever.

This is an amazing film, you just need to see it for what it is... this is NOT a serious look at the issue of pirate radio in the 60s, nor is it an accurate relfection of life as it (apparently) was back then. What it IS, however, is a hugely entertaining, light-hearted film that doesn't take itself too seriously. The music is fantastic, of course, and the cast perfect. It's a film, guys, and it's purpose is to entertain, which is does! It's a comedy, it's a laugh, it's not a documentary on pirate radio. Watch it, have a laugh, embrace the spirit of the film - it's the 60s after all!

Having read the reviews I decided against seeing the film but then a friend applauded it so I decided to see for myself. If you were born between the 50's and 60's and had a 'social life' this film has music that went to your heart in your teens - it was fun and worth seeing !

Just as well I did not listen to the critics...I enjoyed the film from beginning to end, and it brought back all those years, as if it was yesterday! This is the way I remember it , Folks, A must for those who were there (and those who wonder about the sixties!) All in all very good entertainment

As to the banal & sad comment's i've just had the misfortune to spend my precious time reading! thank's for nothing "Guy's!" I've seen the film too & thought it an absolute riot! Hilerious, Funny, Amazingly accurate as to the feeling of the time, each charector was sooooooo defined as far as their role with-in the group was concerned, & especially, important from my point of view, ( unlike your view's) YES they WERE having A BALL making the film! ...instead of being viewed as a cardinal sin by those of you who are soooooooooo obviously challenged in the area of a "Sense of Humour!" is'nt that the whole point of the " Entertainment Industry!!!? Also I found it fascinating to relate many of the charector's to people I've come across in my life,& many that I actually have the honour & privlidge! of having as close friend's! So ok, my view may not concure with the time's we are in, ie (let's all be Negative Nellie's & slate everyone & anyone who Dares to show talent & make light of life & relationship's ) until they stop trying,.... "How awful to think that anyone has the right to make life FUN & enjoyable!" YAWN...... GROAN........!!!! Are you lot SAD or What? I know how I'd rather be, Myself, Fun loving & all for Film's like this one, may Richard Curtis et al make more of this " Much needed Entertainment" By the way, just in case you are interested you guy's! I'M off to see the film ..AGAIN.. You know what I think, KNOW? ........... " LAUGHTER,"........ It's sooooooooo good for the Soul.. .................... Maybe you should all try it sometime,........... " Go on, Give yourselves a Big Break!!!" Try starting with a tiny smile, then a Big Smile, then a Giggle, now a Chuckle, now a gaffaw, & Best of all, here it comes,!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ..." THE BELLY LAUGH!!! ... WOw, you've never felt soooo good!!! Bring it On!!! Byeeeee.x

God knows what film 1/2 of you were watching, because it certainly was NOT the one i went to go see at the cinema. I thought it was a real feel good movie and it was good to see what pirate radio in the 60's was all about. I went with my mum and she was a teen at the time of radio caroline + radio luxenbourg etc, and she said that the film reflected the time, and therefore i think it is worthwhile going to see it! The soundtrack is also fab! Which makes it even better! Just because the film was primarily given bad reviews by the press doesn't mean that it isn't worth watching and is crap. Thats the opinion of a few people (who lets be frank, would be the people who wanted rock and roll + pirate radio banned in the 60's) I dont understand how some people are so closed to the idea that other people may have enjoyed this film, when i went to see it there was a whole screening full of people who were laughing and generally having a good time, so i don't understnd claims of ths film not being funny. People wre also raving about it on leaving the cinema and many people before i went to see it suggested it to me. The claims of 'sex-drugs-and-rock ’n’ roll clichés', while a lot of this kind of thing went on in the films, is false! Those things HAPPENED in the 60's, it was a time of liberation! Either way! Great Film!

no that's unfair Hilda...........stereotyping is bad and stupid........................................and you don't know if these people are PR or not...i'm not and I loved it! and i'm none of the others either. and i am not illiterate,,,,, BUT I DO THINK THAT PEOPLE SHOULDN'T STEREOTYPE OR SAY THINGS THAT CANNOT BE FULLY TRUTHFUL BECAUSE THESE PEOPLE THAT ARE SAYING "EVERYONE" CANNOT HAVE READ EVERY POST......AND IF THEY DID THEN THEY NEED TO FIND SOMETHING BETTER TO DO WITH THEIR TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!......................I am not saying your lives are lame just that you must have been really rather bored if you have read all of the comments left about this film!!

aaah thank you that clears up although i found the "rape" scene funny and i nearly fell off my seat with laughter at the underwater scene!! i thought that was oh so sister found it funny too.....the scene where they are falling down right) it wouldnt have been funny but underwater it was!! granted that it was not really all that funny....none of the rest of the cinema laughed....but then i laugh at anything...including the bourbon sene tee hee OOOH AND I CAN'T WAIT UNTIL IT IS ON DVD

AMAZING..................... there are two different rosie's on this here thgamie

what was the rape scene....there was no rape! which is the father and son scene everyone seems to be objecting to??

f**king brilliant loved it twas amazing i just cae back from seeing it and will go and see it again tommorrow.....or later today....:).....i don't normally do that with films but WOW!!.. it was filled with lots of songs from the 60's (my kind of music) but it wasnt a musical and it was soo funny...i laughed all theway through!!

I thought this film was brilliant, hilarious and thoroughly enjoyable! I want to see it again asap! I am so so surprised that so many people disliked it. I can't see how this is possible! Brilliant; well done again Richard Curtis!

Doctor Zhivago or Gandhi it isn't. It is a piece of highly amusing, ephemeral fluff. It won't change your life, but it will pass a pleasant hour and a half. Kenneth Branagh particularly stood out for me.

Absolutely fantastic film! I don't know what that film review is about but obviously not about the right film! The music was incredible too!!!!!!!!!!!!

This movie sends out a powerfull message that people have the power to make changes happen. 25 million poeple listening to music then was nealry half the country - (shame there is not enough support in the other areas of our lives right now) This colourfull film is well timed considering the economic climate and general state of affairs in the world right now. The feel good factor is tops on this retro story - bit like mamma mia.

Glad I didnt take notice of negative reviews, took my daughter to see it, brilliant film - very atmospheric and different! we laughed and cried a lot. All the cast were great - but you will either love it or hate it.

I thought this film was brilliant..the best film I've seen in a long time..very watchable,feel good film with lots of laughs..Bill Nighy and Rhys Ifans are legends!!..I would highly recommend it..bravo Mr Curtis.

I thought it was great although some people did walk out! The soundtrack was fab (I'm 20 so not of my generation) and I would see it again. I adore everything Richard Curtis has done and if you do I would definately recommend it!

My wife and I loved this film and were shocked that so many didn't! The whole cinema laughed out loud constantly throughout the film - and I certainly never saw anyone leave before it was finished. Very funny, great soundtrack, I think I'll go see it again to spite the humorless few who seem to hate it so much.

Really liked the film don't pay attention to the reviews - you need to go see it and make your own mind up........every one has a different taste thats life!!!. It was good fun and a good chill out movie to watch. i am only 32 so have no experience of the 60's but i still enjoyed it! loved the sound track and would go to see it again. Good fun.

Well, lots of haters, but I watched this last night and I thought it was pretty damn good. Yes their were some corny moments and it wasn't always laugh out loud, but it was a decent watch and I'd recommend it. Possibly better for the over 40's who remember this type of radio.

dot know why this got such a bad review...maybe because its richard curtis? I found it amazingly funny and well timed british comedy, would recommend to all

Forget the pretentious reviews...I thought this film was brilliant, plain and simple. Ok, it was about 30 mins too long, but the cast, humour, music and nostalgia make a must see. I was laughing all the way through and almost went back it to see again!

not brilliant film but very good cant understnad why people dislike this film great music too

I absoloutly loved this film, music was great, actors were great and i left the cinema smiling! i would definetly see this movie again, it was the perfect feelgood movie and i love how origional it is! Rhys Ifans character was particulary awesome... I bought the Boat that Rocked soundtrack as soon as i left the cinema, the music is so addictive! The best movie ive seen in a long long time!

IMDB, is often known as the best movie database in the world, the ultimate film lovers who know everything about films say everything about the films on the user reviews.... and most people loved it... i think that says a little bit more than some stupid timeout commenters......

i love this film so much. i think they picked the best music of the 60's that was so catchy and i've consequently bought the soundtrack which i love and listen to on repeat. tom sturrodge, played karl, was adorable and i loved him. i thought it was hilarious and it is one of my favourite movies. it was too long though and dragged in some places but the jokes and comedy made up for it. deifnately go check it out and see for yourself!

I thought the film was really good but then perhaps I am of an age that listened to these stations and enjoyed the music that they played. whenever the scripted flagged, they played another record, so the whole film lefth me feeling good. The best film I have seen in the last month

Strange I thought I went to see a COMEDY set in the 1960's when, 1. People were sexiest. 2.Being a lesbian was funny. 3.People may have been promiscious/ remember make love not war. 4.Whats wrong with schoolboy humour/I'm a nurse and bodily functions were and are still funny. 5.Its a COMEDY!!!!!!! Who wants deep and meaningful 6.Controversially! it was better than Titanic !!!! I laughed out loud as did many others, it was a fun film great music and worth going to see again

I'm with Hector! I enjoyed this film very much and I don't know why so many people are slating it because it is a decent, funny film. OK, it doesn't have you rolling in the aisles with laughter but it is a nice light-hearted film that lets you escape from reality for the evening. My friends enjoyed it as did the rest of the audience. A good British film with a brilliant soundtrack!

So john you are indicating by your remarks that all teenagers are mentally ill.HMM!!! never mind . The boat that rocks is a fun film And i have to say despite the bullying that goes on here , The cinema i was at was packed on friday night and like i have said before most people enjoyed and took the film for what it was a fun film with a tongue in cheek story line . Sorry all the nerdy expert film buffs but the fact is i and 300 people saw this film in a cinema on friday and very strange for you sado people we all enjoyed . HMMM now who is normal John you dipsticks who run everything down or us ordinary humans who go out to see films and enjoy . Seems a lot of people on hear do not like anyone enjoying themselves

No Jenny lady i have not got money tied up in any film whatsever. Only wish i had money to do so . No Jenny lady what i got is a enjoyable evening watching a fun film . Is that so wrong, and now i am accused of a desperate defence . I do think it sad that as a genuine film fan i go to see a film that i really enjoyed as did the MAJORITY OF THE PACKED AUDITORIUM and yet when i put a positive comment which is what i thought of film i get nothing but rudeness and nastiness. The nastiness and venom which sadly is generated on this site is really not defencable but i guess we must not expect nice things said on the net where really it is all rather faceless and just names on a site who we can never challenge face to face . it says something about the stae of this country and how sad people are . THE FILM IS GREAT AND ENJOYABLE no one who goes should expect a serious doco film . Its funny naughty not that factual but gives a good overview of the era of pirate radio . Enjoyable chucklesome film . Oh and sorry film fans for being positve about a film i forgot one must not say anything good these days . WoNDERFUL FILM GO SEE IT AND ENJOY ''THE BOAT THAT ROCKED ' FAB RAdio ROCK nearly as good as BIG L AND CAROLINE Wonderful film .Not any more to say i will leave now and let the moaning miserable negative nasty rude people in now GOODBYE

hey its a fun film not so factual but then it never advertised that it was . However it gives a flavour of the times and some idea about pirate radio. It is a fun film good music and zany characters soem of whom i could relate to that era and worked on pirate radio. Well worth seeing and dont be put off by theusual moaning minis who never find anything good in any film.

im baffled... i honestly fail to see why everyone despises this film so much. are you all unbelievably high strung film connoisseurs? is your standard so high that you cant just watch a silly film and get by. this film was never meant to be a serious description of the past... i saw people coming out of harold and kumar go to quantanamo bay and enjoying it... and as far as im concerned, this is in a whole different league to that.... its amazing in comparison.... please, someone explain to me.... without just slagging it... why is this such a hated film???

i think that this film was superb. ok fine, it isnt the best structured film, it hasnt got anything to do with morals, and worst of all... it has a sinking ship which cast my eyes back to the sad scenes of titanic. but if we look past the immediate glitches we can really start appreciating the film for what its really worth: a good night out, and a bundle of laughs. not to mention that the soundtrack is one of the best i have heard in a long long time. i went out the next day to buy it!! (havent stopped listening since). the acting is superb, the roles all suit the actors... and its one of the funniest cast i have seen in a film in a long time. nick frost, rhys ifans, billy mack and Rhys Darby... all comic geniuses. and the women all remind me of how hot the sixties was! i think everyone needs to stop being so uptight about life, sit down, re-watch the film and see what it is truly about... and whilst your at it, get the soundtrack!!

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