The Review - AT THE MOVIES with DAN CARRIER Published: 2 April 2009
The DJ crew of Richard Curtis’s The Boat That Rocked take time out between broadcasts to catch some rays on deck in the North Sea
Why I’m so seasick of Curtis fluff
THE BOAT THAT ROCKED Directed by Richard Curtis
FORGIVE me for choosing such an easy target, but Richard Curtis deserves a bucket of noxious slime tipped over his latest flick, a sloppy tale of a pirate radio station bobbing about in the North Sea, playing rock’n’roll to mid-60s teens desperate for a rebellion soundtrack. Curtis is sickeningly gooey. From Four Weddings and Notting Hill to Love Actually and Bridget Jones, all have created this certain glossy Blairite concept of what it means to be well-heeled metropolitans. They are nauseating portrayals of contemporary life that bear no relation to the reality of anyone who does not earn a small fortune through the interest on their trust funds, lives in the Notting Hill surrounds and is looking forward to voting without shame for David Cameron in the next election.
And this dreamy attempt to make a cool film about 60s counter culture fails miserably.
Twee, charmless and lacking any dramatic drive, it is one of his worst efforts. The Boat That Rocked is so lazy even the most die-hard Curtis fan will have to delve desperately to find anything likeable.
We are taken back to 1966. The BBC are playing just two hours of rock’n’roll a week. However, you can tune in to Radio Rock, beamed from a ship in the middle of the sea, and hear the latest sounds 24/7.
Their broadcasts attract the attention of stuffy government minister Dormandy (Kenneth Brannagh) who decides to sink the ship’s music-for-all plan and rid Britain of the debauched influence of long-haired hippie music. Cue a DJs versus establishment tale.
The cast has Curtis’s stamp all over it: Philip Seymour Hoffman joins Bill Nighy, Rhys Ifans, Jack Davenport and Kenneth Brannagh. While they are all watchable as actors, even little things like their outfits make this mess hard to watch. They all look as if they have been to a fancy dress shop and asked for the most embarrassing pastiches of 60s outfits they could find.
Curtis has even missed a trick with the soundtrack. It is all simple 60s standards. No chances have been taken. Like the plot, it is simply another facet of Curtis’s play-it-safe attitude which makes his films so dreary.