The Boat That Rocked

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Richard Curtis, responsible for such British classics as Nottinghill and The Vicar of Dibley, has excelled himself in this feel-good, character driven comedy. The film is firmly set in late 60s Britain, when the war time generation were trying to maintain old British Tory values while the youth wanted nothing of the sort. The story revolves around a pirate radio station based on a boat, "Rock Boat" in the North Sea and is about a recently expelled public school boy, whose mother sends him away to the boat to 'get clean'. The nostalgia factor is forced through the roof with wall to wall 60s music playing both on the radio station and as part of the non diegetic soundtrack. Classic rock n roll in the form of Kinks, Beatles and Stones are blasted across the airwaves to eager teens who consider themselves to be at the height of rebellion for tuning into the station.

The film has an essence of the old Carry On films with cheeky sex references and names such as 'Twatt' and 'Miss Clitt' but manages not to be vulgar as a result of the lovable characters involved in their sexual antics. Nick Frost, the overweight, arrogant, yet entirely likable primetime DJ, is excellent and draws on his comedy roots to give a masterclass performance. Other outstanding members of the cast include Philip Seymour Hoffman, who plays the imported American DJ, The Count, who provides a taste of Hollywood, Bill Nighy, whose brilliantly flamboyant character plays the gaffer of the radio station, and comic genius Rhys Darby (Flight of The Conchords, Yes Man) who play the unfortunately ginger and unlucky-in-love, Angus. His best line, "How would the world live without my comedy?"

It was refreshing to hark back to a more innocent and less self aware time, when people felt liberated and had awesome music to dance to in the process. The film has come out at exactly the right time; I think we all need a lift during the whole recession business and this seems like the perfect remedy to twenty-first century cynicism.

Favourite Scene (Spoiler!):

The best part of the film for me was when Bob, the hippyish mysterious early morning breakfast DJ was clutching onto his box of records while the boat was sinking. The underwater shots are really well executed and create a sense of wonder and serenity amidst the silly comedy moments. The old man struggles to keep hold of his record collection while the water levels are rapidly rising and there is a beautiful moment where he loses grip of the box and all his records start floating away from him. He tries to grab them back but is not successful and it is incredible to see someone so passionate about their music that they would be willing to die for it. The sixties ignited a passion for rock n roll that still lives in the best of us today. Manufactured pop bands should take a leaf out of the old rock n roll handbook and get some of that passion back.


Sam Lee 11 April 2009 at 12:57  
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