The Boat That Rocked2009

Critics score:
61 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

A.O. Scott, At the Movies:Any serious music fan -- that is anyone who sees the radio pirates as kindred spirits -- will be outraged by its sloppy approach to the history of rock and roll.Read more

Amy Nicholson, I.E. Weekly:Grudgingly irresistibleRead more

Manohla Dargis, New York Times:Boys will be boys and often at top volume in Pirate Radio, Richard Curtis's fanciful fiction about rebel broadcasters.Read more

Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out:Giggles, not belly laughs, come frequently, and it'll help if viewers love U.K. comics.Read more

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal:Richard Curtis's comedy is anchored only in exuberance, but that's more than you can say for most movies these days; it keeps you beaming with pleasure.Read more

Tom Keogh, Seattle Times:In just about every respect, Pirate Radio is less than seaworthy.Read more

Jonathan F. Richards,'s movie is loosely based on the historical truths of the time, but it isn't meant as a documentary, a rockumentary, or even a docucomedy. It's just a hell of a lot of fun.Read more

Sam Adams, AV Club:Do you like montages, but grow bored with the tedious plot bits in between? Then Pirate Radio is the movie for you.Read more

Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic:Pirate Radio is a great soundtrack in search of a movie. It never really finds one.Read more

Ty Burr, Boston Globe:Richard Curtis has made a party, not a movie, and if the party goes on much too long, at least the guests are great company and the host's taste in music is impeccable.Read more

Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times:Pirate Radio, the new rock-saturated comedy that proves life really is better when it's set to a '60s soundtrack, is, to borrow from the Stones, "a gas! gas! gas!"Read more

J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader:A hodgepodge of half-baked characters and story ideas, stoked by a frantic climax and a blue-chip playlist of 1966 rock classics.Read more

Tom Long, Detroit News:Pirate Radio is a bit of a mess. But an amiable mess nonetheless, with the boys' casual chemistry and the music carrying things along, it's not that hard to watch and it's great to listen to.Read more

Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly:Pirate Radio is, in the end, about as rock-revolutionary as a tea break. But the choppy production floats on a great soundtrack (the real pirates are the Rolling Stones) and is buoyed by an inviting cast...Read more

David Germain, Associated Press:There's more Partridge Family hugginess than sedition and subversion behind this rock 'n' roll story.Read more

Charlie McCollum, San Jose Mercury News:I started glancing at the time well before the midway mark.Read more

Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger:If rock 'n' roll is about joy and rebellion, then a movie about it should be joyful and rebellious, too. But Pirate Radio is staid and stolid.Read more

Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News:It's all got a great backbeat and you can dance to it, but there isn't much to Curtis's rebels except some canned anti-authoritarian, sex-drugs-rock 'n' roll rants.Read more

Kyle Smith, New York Post:[A] bright joy-bomb that explodes in every direction with rock classics used in surprisingly direct and literal ways.Read more

Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel:It was cut by over half an hour for American release and still plays long. But thanks to that fairy-dusting of Curtis charm, I wouldn't cut a frame of it. It skips by like a much-loved old LP.Read more

Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer:Pirate Radio takes a great story -- the hugely popular offshore radio stations that illegally broadcast pop and rock in 1960s Britain -- and turns it into an aggressively irritating floating frat-party romp.Read more

James Berardinelli, ReelViews:The music is great, the comedy provides occasional laughs, and there's nothing fundamentally wrong with the movie. Distilled to its essence, it represents a respectable diversion.Read more

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times:Here the plot doesn't require a reason for the characters to keep running into one another; there's nowhere they can hide. No coincidences means more development. And the wall-to-wall '60s rock keeps things bright.Read more

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone:The boat nearly sinks from character overload, and Curtis brakes when you most want him to gun it. But there's no denying the comic energy of the cast.Read more

Stephanie Zacharek, Curtis' bumbling, Pirate Radio manages to stay afloat bravely enough -- at least until the climax, which comes off as a confused marriage between Top of the Pops and Titanic.Read more

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle:This might sound like a sentimental recipe, but Richard Curtis, who wrote and directed, keeps the spirit fresh and anarchic.Read more

Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune:Imagine the dullest moments from Almost Famous and the lamest bits from Animal House held together with clumsy Frankenstein stitching. Now punch yourself in the face. There you go.Read more

Joe Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch:Even as it spirals into disaster-flick absurdity, Pirate Radio isn't trying to cause a big sensation, it's just peddling instant gratification.Read more

Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail:Forty years ago, they couldn't get these songs on the radio; now we can't get them off.Read more

Peter Howell, Toronto Star:If there were awards handed out for the most badly bungled concept, Pirate Radio would have to be very much in contention.Read more

Wally Hammond, Time Out:'The Ship That Sank' would be a more appropriate title for writer-director Richard Curtis's latest and most disappointing entertainment. It's a cripplingly self-conscious and self-satisfied tribute.Read more

Claudia Puig, USA Today:The film's original title was The Boat That Rocked. Indeed, these freewheeling, swinging '60s DJs braved their own Titanic to keep on rocking in the free world.Read more

Derek Elley, Variety:For a script that relies more on character-driven than situational comedy, it's the perfs that count, and these are thankfully strong.Read more

Robert Wilonsky, Village Voice:The sex is polite, and there's not a whiff of dope.Read more

Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post:What's not to like? It's Animal House on water, with Branagh playing Dean Wormer.Read more