The Boat That Rocked Review – Abandon Ship!
THE BOAT THAT ROCKED: On general release 3rd April 2009
Richard Curtis is to romantic comedies as Bjork is to crazy, swan-wearing yodellers – defined by them.
As The Boat That Rocked has no Hugh Grant and no floppy-haired Englishmen in sight, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Curtis had finally decided to expand his horizons. Sadly that’s not the case, as The Boat That Rocked is a predictable, flabby epic with more holes in it than The Lusitania.
17 year old Carl (Tom Sturridge) is expelled from school for smoking and is sent to live on a floating rust pile of a boat captained by his swinging Uncle (Bill Nighy). The boat is home to pirate radio station Rock Radio where he meets an assortment of madcap DJs including Phillip Seymour Hoffman as The Count (clearly based on famous Emperor Rosko of Radio Caroline fame), The IT Crowd’s Chris O’Dowd as the well-meaning but socially inept Simon, Nick Frost’s lewd, leering tubster Dave and the sexually charged mysterious Gavin (Rhys Ifans).
The film asks you to swallow a saccharine two dimensional view of Britain with swinging sixties hipsters on one side (yay!) and dour-faced grim politicians on the other (boo!).
Cardboard-cut-out villain Kenneth Branagh is the Dickensian politician that’s going to shut Radio Rock down and he couldn’t be more cartoonish if he started twirling his moustache and cackling to camera. I bet he ties young ladies to railway tracks in his spare time. He’s assisted by his chief aide Twatt (Jack Davenport) – I’m sure you can imagine the hilarious consequences of a name like that. That’s about the level of comedy we’re dealing with here, a kind of Carry On innuendo mixed with clichéd characters and predictable set pieces.
The first half an hour rattles along at a nice pace, but with no real driving plot and a running time of 129 minutes, this really is stretching the audience’s patience. It’s like a load of sketches have been written and pasted together with no sense of editing.
You could cut out the irritating montages of schoolgirls, nurses and pensioners getting down to pop tunes that appear every 20 minutes and you’d have a film of half the length and double the quality.
The soundtrack is the best thing about the film – The Who, The Kinks, Cream, Dusty Springfield – there are some wonderful 60s tracks which make you remember that this was a great period for music.
It’s just a shame that it seems 2009 is not a good year for romantic comedies.