Sex, Drugs & Rock 'N' Droll

    Pirate Radio
    Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rhys Ifans & Bill Nighy
    Directed by Richard Curtis
    Rated R
    02:15
    2.5 stars

    CaptureClassic rock fans, rejoice: Your dream film is here. As for everybody else, well, you better start enjoying flower power and sticking it to the man right about now.

    But take heed, because nothing in “Pirate Radio” is taken seriously. Considering the plot is driven by nothing more than sheer ridiculousness, it’s hard to believe that the film was inspired by true-to-life historical events.

    The latest from director Richard Curtis (taking a far leap from “Love Actually”), “Radio” is a wack-o take on the heyday of pirate radio stations — a phenomenon inspired by the British government’s censorship of rock ‘n’ roll in the 1960s. In this case, a group of renegade deejays band together on an old ship anchored in the North Sea to broadcast popular hits from such subverseive rebels as the Who, Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones, to name a few.

    In addition to an inevitably kickass soundtrack, the film’s small charma lie in its slew of over-the-top characters. Though they’re all probably smashed, the actors seem to be having so much fun trying to outdo each other’s personas that it’s impossible not to get sucked into the shitshow. Dueling deejays Gavin (Rhys Ifans) and the Count (Philip Seymour Hoffman) are particularly fun to watch, each lost in his own idiosyncrasies as the pair cavort around the ship like the rockstars they idolize.

    Though the ’60s decadence, discography and dance provide an addictive time capsule for all those babies of baby boomers who spend the better part of life wishing they hadn’t missed out on Woodstock and JFK, the film’s sloppy script often compromises its flow.

    In a particularly jolting moment of self-awareness, the Count proclaims, “These are the best years of our lives.” While that may be true, the line feels so out of place within the deejay’s “I don’t give a fuck” anthem that we’re bound to wonder what Curtis was smoking when he wrote it — and where we can get some.

    Though the maritime station broadcasts for several years without reprimand, the evil government eventually finds a way to stop the music. (Sorry, Rihanna.) But, like true pirates, the DJs fight the law out of loyalty to their fans, and adopt a broadcast-ordie attitude. Or go to prison, of course.

    Despite a sparse plot, there is still plenty of space for humor, and the actors are chock full of it. But when Curtis falls back on cheap slapstick rather than allowing the talent to unfold, the close confines of the ship begin to suffocate everyone involved.

    At times, “Radio” seems a missed opportunity for depth in the story of Carl (Tom Sturridge) — a wide-eyed 18-year-old who comes of age aboard the ship, “Almost Famous” style — more than anything. Without even a drop of emotional fanfare, an awkward gap is left in the narrative. But if you’re only in it for a head-banging good time, this one’s for you.

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