In 1960's Britain, no radio station would play rock 'n roll, leaving the youth of the country without a viable means to accessing their music of choice. Rock's only hope came in the form of ships anchored off the English coast that broadcast the genre 24/7. "Pirate Radio" centers around one of these ships and the DJs who man the airwaves, led by The Count (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Their semi-legal exploits draw the ire of Sir Alistar Dormandy (Kenneth Branagh), a stuffy government official who hates rock 'n roll and the influence it has on kids. As pirate radio gains listeners, Dormandy and his cronies increase their efforts to make the ships illegal, setting off a war between the rebels and the powers-that-be.
"Pirate Radio" has some solid performances. Bill Nighy, for example, is always enjoyable and seriously, there might not be a better Funny Angry actor in the world than Hoffman. I stinking love that guy. Unfortunately the story unfolds like a Michael Moore documentary: all shock value, little factuality. There's a very interesting story to be told here that I, being the ignorant American that I am, haven't heard. But even someone who knows nothing of the actual story can smell the bias that emanates from "Pirate Radio." I'm not saying I expected a completely fair and unbiased look at the intricate details that surround this story, but director Richard Curtis could have done a better job of disguising his "good guy, bad guy" approach. The music for "Pirate" is excellent and there are some funny moments (especially those involving Hoffman, naturally). But the end product is unsatisfying and, quite frankly, irrelevant. The whole thing just made me want to watch "Almost Famous," a coming-of-age-in-the-music-business film that actually matters.