“The Boat That Rocked” er, “Pirate Radio” is getting a release here in America, set for November 13th, the same weekend as Roland Emmerich’s “2012” and a limited release weekend for Wes Anderson’s adaptation of “The Fantastic Mr. Fox.” I consider this huge news as I’ve been dying for this movie’s US release since hearing about it sometime the beginning of the year/end of 2008. The trailer can be found here: “The Boat that Rocked”/”Pirate Radio” Trailer. This is the International Release trailer — there’s one cut different for America, which is now titled, of course, “Pirate Radio.”
Since it’s run in the UK, however, the flick isn’t getting the press I hoped it would, or the critical acclaim. I just want to say it: I want this movie to be big. I want it to bring to America a fascination with rock radio that it has lost a long time ago. Sure, programs like “The Underground Garage” or (to an extent) “Nights with Alice Cooper,” and albums like Tom Petty’s “The Last DJ” recall a time when radio was king and are popular enough in the own right, but the reality is that radio cannot market itself the way that movies can. By this, I mean that radio has been taken for granted, and it’s merely white noise to most of us nowadays. This is why a radio set is expected to come with your car, and it’s expect that, these days, there’s an option to install an MP3 jack. Depressing.
When I saw this trailer, I felt like it had to be a can’t miss opportunity to express to Americans the importance of radio as a source of culture, personal expression, and a shot of life itself in our otherwise dull lives. More importantly, rock and roll as a source of culture, personal expression, and a desperately needed shot of life in our very dull lives. However, the news that the movie has been reworked to emphasize more of a romantic storyline, and treat the radio aspect itself as a backdrop, is saddening. Even more so than the tame title change, lack of advertising (I’ve seen one television spot on Cable), and the general feeling that there’s simply no support from the studio, and that this is (pardon the pun) being cast out to sea.
What’s not to like? Phillip Seymour Hoffman, essentially playing the one role I ever liked him in (Lester Bangs in “Almost Famous”), a Brit-flick cult dream cast, and a killer fucking soundtrack to boot. Instead, it’s put out during award season without a care, and expected to die in the wake of the way-too-late-for-summer-blockbuster-season “2012.” There’s a chance it might come out on top — assuming that none of the releases from the weekend of November 6th (and there’s a lot of potential there) do not continue to rake in after that weekend. All of this, so I hear, because of the concern that American audiences simply won’t care or understand the cultural climate of swinging 60’s London. Sure, we all loved the first “Austin Powers,” but after our own nostalgia trip of “Taking Woodstock,” we may be burned out on everything 60’s.
But this is precisely the sort of film we need nowadays: a goofy, but sincere exploration of our personal expression, youthful joy and mirth, and timeless pop art. Now is the time to consider what keeps us from tapping our creativity, and what keeps us attached to it.