Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Richard Curtis (director) • Pirate Radio

Starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy. Rated R.

Two of my best friends have been trying to teach me a lesson for years, and it's only been in the last one or two that I've come to appreciate it: LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS & YOU WON'T BE DISAPPOINTED. Craig Kennedy and Dick Rossetti, this one's for you...

"A shipwreck of Titanic proportions." - Marsh Gooch, Skratch Disc

That's what I would like my pull quote (or whatever they call it in the movie review business) to read for the movie Pirate Radio. I saw trailers for this one a few months ago, and thought, "It's about British pirate radio in the '60s, it's gotta be good." Or, "It's got Phillip Seymour Hoffman in it, it's gotta be good." Sure, somewhere in the back of my mind I had thought there was a possibility it could suck, but I smothered that with my thoughts of all the great music the movie would have, the '60s British fashions the birds would be wearing, and the general rebel rebelliousness I expected would accompany it. There was great music, true, but nothing surprising. (The Who, Kinks, Stones; no Beatles or Zombies.) And there were a few pairs of thigh-high vinyl boots in sight, and on a couple of pretty decent gals (including the character Maryanne), but it wasn't exactly Carnaby Street-Upon-The North Sea. But rebelliousness? It only got as far as the premise.

Then there were the anachronisms. Screenwriter Richard Curtis, who also directed, actually had one character say "think outside the box." At one point a DJ is playing the song "Judy In Disguise" by John Fred & His Playboy Band, which isn't as big a sin as the fact that they showed an A&M Records LP spinning on the turntable, when EVERYBODY KNOWS that the song came out on Paula Records! And yet, later at a pivotal point in the movie, you hear Procol Harum's "Whiter Shade Of Pale" which came out on Deram Records in the UK and they show the correct 45 spinning!

Yes, I stayed for the whole thing, trying very hard to exercise my God-given willingful suspension of disbelief. But ultimately I lost that battle. I did, however, add another notch to the post my friends Craig and Dick gave me. Next time I will think to myself, upon viewing a trailer for a movie (or cover of a book or album) that looks good, "I'll bet it sucks."

Craig Kennedy is the critic for LivingInCinema.com.
Dick Rossetti is the lead singer for Guns & Rossetti.

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