Movies With a Side of Nerd: “Pirate Radio”

And now, o fellow Persephones, I present to you the first in an I-don’t-know-how-often series that I’d like to call MOVIES WITH A SIDE OF NERD! :D I am calling it that because any movie I will post about will most likely not be one that you’ll find nominated for an award (although I swear some of them should be). Besides, all girls have that nerdy side to them, so why not embrace her and let her say something once in awhile?  This time, we address a little indie film that I love: Pirate Radio. (For our non-North American friends, you may know it better as The Boat That Rocked, its original title from England.)

The first thing that drew me to this film back when it was in theaters back in 2009 (and, yes, I did go see it!) was the fact that it had its basis in fact. In the UK in the ’60s, most radio stations in Britain did not play much, if any, of the amazing pop/rock music that was starting to take the world by storm (despite the fact that many of the bands were local, British bands). In true rock fashion, stations broadcast from boats and dubbed “pirate radio” emerged, staffed by those who were devoted to playing the music anyway. They were legal at he time, because they were in international waters, but that loophole would close in ’67. (For a full history, I hereby Wikipedia you!) The film explores this premise, from the perspective of a fictitious radio station in the North Sea. All this, and you haven’t even gotten five minutes in!

Rather than give you a synopsis, as most movie reviews would do, I’m just going to tell you why you should see it in the first place. After all, if you know exactly what happens in a movie, what’s the point in watching it?

The actors in this movie are some that you may recognize: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Rhys Ifans, Chris O’Dowd, Nick Frost, and Kenneth Branaugh (as well as some newbies). Note: don’t fret if those names are unfamiliar to you either; I simply chose them because I personally recognized them. They are a motley crew, to be sure, but they give the viewer a feel of a group of people that genuinely have become a family in rock. They all play their parts exceedingly well, and it made me fall in love with the movie even more.

The soundtrack to this movie is bloody incredible. From the Kinks to the Turtles to Smokey Robinson to Herb Alpert to David Bowie to Cat Stevens to Martha and the Vandellas, any fan of music from that era is going to be hooked from the start. I know I was. For those who may not be too familiar with the music from this point in time, it’s a great introduction to some of the biggest hits of the day and some of the greatest pop hits that have existed.

The storyline itself, without going to much into it, is amazing. There is much more depth to this movie than “radio station in the water”, but I’ll spoil it if I tell, so I’ll simply tell you that it’s WORTH IT. My only caveat: watch out for the Biggest Burn in a Movie Ever, as well as the Second Biggest Burn in a Movie Ever. Two incidents within it made both my husband and I go “Holy crap, that sucks so bad!”, and I can only assume that it will do the same for others who choose to watch it. (Choose to watch it! Choose to watch it!)

All in all, my Persephones, I will give Pirate Radio a MWSN rating of CR: Cerebral, yet Rockin’. Until next time!

15 replies on “Movies With a Side of Nerd: “Pirate Radio””

I’m totally seconding this rating! Cerebral, yet Rockin’! I love this movie. It tells the story so well, and the music is amazing. I actually bought my niece (she’s 1) a Pirate Radio t-shirt to show her preschool how awesome she is and her musical interests. :P

Meep! I love your little niece already! :D

I was introduced to the older stuff I love by my lovely aunt (whom you’ve seen write for Persephone), and my dad. They both brought something new to the mix, and I love them both dearly for influencing the awesomeness that is my musical taste. :)

I think it might be the best thing we can do for the next generation is get them hooked on good music early and then see what happens. I know I’m super glad to the people (my uncle and mom, ironically enough) who introduced it all to me. And if I’m thinking right, I love your aunt’s articles on here. She has awesome taste. :)


My parents instilled a deep, deep love of rock n roll in me and we watched this movie together one night and loved it. It’s the music of my parents era and even though my dad in particular is more of a southern rock guy, it was the one movie we could get him to sit and watch. Whenever it came on HBO, I’d watch it.

Now I must go and listen to the soundtrack.

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