By John Mulderig
Catholic News Service
NEW YORK (CNS) — "Pirate Radio" (Focus) is an energetic but sexually freewheeling ensemble comedy set in mid-1960s Britain. As written and directed by Richard Curtis, this fact-based frolic’s potentially buoyant celebration of music and camaraderie is torpedoed by its implicit acceptance of all manner of bedroom shenanigans.
After being expelled from school, rebellious teen Carl (Tom Sturridge) is sent by his glamorous mother, Elenore (January Jones), to live with Quentin (Bill Nighy), a friend from her past who has converted an oil tanker anchored in the North Sea into an offshore radio station broadcasting the rock ‘n’ roll music that the government-sponsored BBC will not.
(While Quentin’s operation is fictional, several such facilities did exist at the time.)
As Quentin’s staff of eccentric disc jockeys — including, most prominently, a shaggy-haired American expatriate known as the Count (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and his celebrated native rival Gavin (Rhys Ifans) — battles uptight bureaucrat Dormandy’s (Kenneth Branagh) efforts to shut them down, Carl wins the record spinners’ acceptance and pursues romance with fetching shipboard visitor Marianne (Talulah Riley).
With characters slipping into and out of each other’s cabins, and boatloads of groupies being brought from shore on a regular basis for casual sex, physical combinations range from the premarital — Carl’s determination to lose his virginity is aided and applauded by his new friends — to the multiple, as we see one DJ happily slipping off with two enthusiastic female fans.
Even the ship’s lesbian cook, Felicity (Katherine Parkinson), eventually finds a partner, much to her fellow characters’ delight.
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Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. More reviews are available online at www.usccb.org/movies.
The film contains a benign view of casual, group and gay sex and of drug and condom use, brief rear nudity, a pornographic image, some irreverent and sexual humor, a couple of profanities and at least 20 uses of the F-word. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.