15 Sep
You're better off punching yourself in the face while listening to Pet Sounds


Madman Mundt just caught a screening of the upcoming film Pirate Radio. He didn’t like it.

There are exactly two reasons to sit through the upcoming Pirate Radio, and luckily for the producers both appear ubiquitously throughout the film. The first is the late 60’s rock soundtrack that Focus pictures has somehow collected, which is a miracle of a coup because the rights alone seem like they would double the movie’s production budget. It’s not just a couple heavy hitters, everyone is nobly represented — which shouldn’t be surprising in a open love letter to rock ‘n’ roll masquerading as a movie. Jimi, The Beatles, Stones, Beach Boys, Dusty Springfield, The Who, The Kinks, Smokey Robinson, David Bowie, Otis Redding, Cream, The Turtles, Cat Stevens…just too many to name. The second reason to sit through this saccharine-sweet flick is the cast, which again defies the laws of logic. How they got such a high caliber (if not elite) cast to hack their ways through one of the worst scripts to make it to production (it makes Truth About Cats & Dogs look original) is beyond me. It features the suddenly-everywhere Bill Neighy, Nick Frost, Rhys Darby (Murray from Flight of the Conchords), Ralph Brown (the legendary drug dealer/Cumberbund Carrot roller in Withnail & I), January Jones (Betsy from Mad Men), Talulah Riley (the upcoming Inception) and Philip Seymour Hoffman, who’s reprising his role as that fidgety eccentric guy…which somehow always comes across like Kenneth Branagh channeling Jack Black. Which is coincidental, as Branagh also appears as a starched-collar bureaucrat charged with bringing down all the offshore pirate radio stations. He could not be more loathsomely clichéd had he walked around sipping tea with his pinky extended, smoking a pipe and repeating, “Good day!” to everyone that got in his way (actually, I think that happened).

In the end, those reasons aren’t enough to sit through this pooper. Written and directed by the painfully precious Richard Curtis (of Love Actually, Notting Hill and Bridget Jones Diary fame…exactly), it won’t come as a shock to tell you that this feel-good comedy (drop the romantic, add the bro-hugs) has moments of such utter fucking cuteness that you actually wince. It’s like a bad sitcom or after school special with a $100 million soundtrack. Every 7 minutes the doldrums are broken up by moments of spontaneous partying, punctuated with loud bursts of feel good rock (if it were a trailer, imagine “I Feel Good” blasting out your speakers), and people celebrating wildly…usually while playing board games and chain-smoking cigarettes. The film actually ends with everyone silly dancing on the boat. Yes, silly dancing.

If you want to watch a recent ode to rock, you’re better off with Ang Lee’s Taking Woodstock, which isn’t perfect but damn well won’t have you punching yourself in the groin. Pirate Radio comes out November 13. Mark your calendars to make sure you have something, anything, else to do that weekend…

(Forward the trailer below to the 45 second mark to avoid inane bantering)

7 Responses to ““Pirate Radio” film review”

  1. gcmoss says:

    I sent for the UK version on DVD and watched it last night. I loved it. I thought the two hours and ten minutes flew by. The actors are indeed top quality, and the plot, loosely based on the true story of Radio Caroline, is exciting and compelling. As with other Richard Curtis films, he is constantly cutting in clips to give the viewer a sense of the community involved in the plot. Kenneth Branagh’s snooty government minister is far from cliche’. He has some of the funniest lines in the movie. Perhaps they are funny because he knows exactly how to deliver them for maximum effect. Either way, he is the only one who made me laugh out loud, LOUDLY. No, this movie may not solve all the world’s problems,but if you love the music of the era it’s great to spend a few hours celebrating the incredible talent of the late 60’s.

  2. Auriete says:

    Let’s agree to disagree, Madman Mundt, because my husband and I both enjoyed the movie. We laughed out loud throughout at comedy that’s very genuine and didn’t seem at all, to me, to be contrived. It’s an excellent film that I would enjoy seeing again.

  3. Bruce says:

    This film musters every rock and roll cliche feasible — excess! bright colors! hair! misbehavior! — in a cheeky, non-threatening, half-dimensional way. Women are idiots, the main black character is a clown, and the incessant speech-making at the end is pathetic. There are far better ways to hear good music and feel its true impact on people. This is a lazy, inoffensive film for people who want to feel excitement in the safest way possible.

  4. Nuba says:

    Austin Texas music and outdoor fun sorts showed up for this film and totally laughed out loud. We found value and had good laughs at the Brit persona circa 1966, DJ rebel mentality, odd but pulling together personalities reminescent of junior high clubsters,and embraced those tremendous and diverse musical accomplishments once again. The fleet of great acting and plain spoken technical effects, nothing to look past either. We also viewed “Taking Woodstock” and loved the film even though we wished for more great music. At any rate, did Madman view the film from a computer in the dark on a day when one failed to take ones anti-depressants?

  5. Ryan says:

    I actually happened to love this movie. Was very funny, plot was awesome, music was unreal, and characters were great and well established. After watching I actually feel like punching YOU in the groin for being such a senseless and shitty critique. Would absolutely love to get your email.

  6. Madman Mundt says:

    Hey Ryan – sorry if I have to disagree with you on this one. The music was EXCELLENT, and that’s about where the quality stops. I think the difference here is you’re either a fan of Richard Curtis or not (Love Actually, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones Diary, etc). Obviously I’m not — I find his stuff schmaltzy and corny to the point of painful. The characters were all 2 dimensional and the plot was as transparent as greasy paper towels. It was film making by the numbers, in my humble opinion, and not worth the price of admission. But that is only ONE MAN’s opinion and I don’t think you’re wrong for liking it, I just think we have different opinions on what makes a good movie. For what it’s worth, pound for pound “Almost Famous” (another love letter to rock n roll) I found infinitely better…

  7. […] block studios via homemade rooftop antennas. Just don’t confuse real Pirate Radio with that shit ass movie, real Pirate Radio won’t have anything to do with Richard […]

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