FILM: The Boat that Rocked (2009)

me⋅di⋅oc⋅ri⋅ty 
/ˌmidiˈɒkrɪti/
[mee-dee-ok-ri-tee] –noun, plural -ties.

1.the state or quality of being mediocre.
2.mediocre ability or accomplishment.
3.a mediocre person.
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Mild disappointment is a funny thing. Its like mild curry, mild weather or a mild case of dyssentry. Often, as a budding film-reviewer, I'd rather abhor a film than feel indifferent towards it. The Boat that Rocked demands a moderate dislike of which I am not accustomed. The film causes oozings of such hollow, unaffected apathy that to watch it is painful not because of how hackneyed the humour is, or how cliched the context, but merely because above all else The Boat that Rocked could have been better.

The premise is sensational - a pirate radio station broadcasting from a rusted hulk in the North Sea becomes the most popular frequency in Britain and the Man tries to shut it down. Add Bill Nighy and you're guaranteed success. In Screenwriting 101 you learn that the best way to pitch a film idea is to keep it short. When William Davies pitched the script for Twins he used three words, and three words only - "Schwarzenegger. Devito. Twins." I can only imagine what three words Richard Curtis used to sell The Boat that Rocked to Working Title - "Boat. Rock. Nighy," perhaps? And you can't blame W.T. for running with the idea. The problem is that the end result is more of a "Bland. Formulaic. Farce."

So what went wrong?

First and foremost, there was not nearly enough Nighy. Bill has rescued every movie he's ever been apart of. In Love actually he stole the show playing a down-and-out rock star. In Pirates of the Caribbean his portrayal of a down-and-out rock star was uncanny and in Notes on a Scandal he won acclaim for his down-and-out rock star-esque role.

Secondly, for a comedy, The Boat that Rocked was not actually all that jam-packed with laughs. It is not entirely devoid of humour, but if Curtis had spent a little more time on the funnies and a little less time on the excessive impromptu 60s dance numbers, this film would be a damn sight better.

And how could I forget the ending. Without giving too much away, if you like this film for the first 126 minutes, then the last 3 are sure to disgust even the most staunch nautical broadcasting fan. The final moments play out like a rained-out kindergarten Christmas pantomime - where every character is played by your grotty step-brother.


So what went right?

Very little.

...It's a pretty cool boat.

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3 comments:

Longines said...

Randy,

I think rather than trying to extrapolate plot and contextual integrity; you should consider that the scope and focus of this film is comedy. From your inclining snide recollection of the film, you strike me as an individual who has not relaxed in a long time and looked too far into a primarily sporadic film.
The premise of the film is to indeed have continued ,almost incomprehensible rambling as the focus of the station, and have it prevail through unecessary government intervention.
Did you happen to miss the irony and sattire of the British Government being depicted?
The dance was part of the era, definitively. Perhaps you could try watching the film again to gain a more comprehensive understanding.

Randy Life said...

It's refreshing to see that my particular brand of nonchalance can incite a comment so malicious and baleful from one of FBR's three readers.

I hope you've still got some Microsoft Word synonyms left after that extravagant display of polysyllabic gibberings, otherwise you might not be able to sound all intelligent like in your next piece of Harry potter fan-fiction.

Did you happen to miss the irony and satire of my review? You strike me as an individual who has not gotten any in a long time.

As for comedy being the scope and focus of this film - I address at in my hilariously witty review - "for a comedy, The Boat that Rocked was not actually all that jam-packed with laughs".

And as for dance being a definitive part of the 60s, just as Hitler was a definitive part of the 40s, some decade-specific stereotypes aren't meant to be made into hilarious period montages.

'Nuff said.

Longines said...

I'm not going to even bother rectifying that one.