New Richard Curtis movie - The Boat That Rocked

So, I was kindly invited to the cast and crew screening of The Boat That Rocked, Richard 'Four Weddings/ Notting Hill/ Love Actually' Curtis' latest film yesterday. I'd already seen a bit of footage at some work-related thing a while back, so I knew I liked the cast and the subject matter. Have a look at the trailer here.

The cast is great - Nick Frost, Bill Nighy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rhys Darby, Chris O'Dowd, Rhys Ifans, Emma Thompson, Katherine Parkinson, Kenneth Branagh, January Jones are amongt the sprawling ensemble. The subject matter is pirate radio in the 60s - back when if you wanted to listen to pop music or rock n roll (and 25 million, more than half of Britain's population, did), you certainly couldn't tune in to Radio 1 or XFM. Instead you sought out pirate radio stations, broadcast from ships out in the North Sea - like the one in Curtis' movie - Radio Rock.

Music is clearly the main character in this indulgent, rather too long love letter to the era in which Curtis grew up and the soundtrack is cool. Lots of stuff I knew, plenty I didn't. Probably older and wiser types might disagree and berate some of the 'obvious' choices but frankly, I think you need some well known tracks to appeal to the younger audience members who won't know loads of obscure stuff.

Anyway - my bugbear is that the movie is simply stuffed too full of characters with not enough to do, inconsequential scenes with little or no dramatic payoff, and not enough in the way of humour. I enjoyed parts of it - mainly when Nick Frost or Rhys Darby or Bill Nighy were saying basically anything, but overall left feeling that I expected more. And I'm a sucker for feel-good movies so I'd say I'm fairly easily pleased. Oh well. The scenes with Kenneth Branagh and Jack Davenport playing officious government types were so ludicrously hammy that I actually cringed. Having Davenport's character named 'Twat' simply so anything said to him could be ended with "twat" was tragic - a pale, pale echo of the genuine humour behind Captain Darling's moniker in Blackadder

I did enjoy the ending which had the trademark rousing, triumphant tone that Curtis' films tend to feature. But so much of what went before was so 'meh' that if I were scoring, this would be a 2.5/ 5.


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