Sunday, 12 April 2009

Of The Boat that Rocked

I have to tell the truth here, I wasn't planning on reviewing this. I was actually going to see Fast and Furious with a couple of mates on Friday, but because this movie only came out that day, it was Easter weekend and the movie is stunningly popular ($70 million dollars opening weekend in the US!!) we didn't get in. Not for lack of trying. We started in Camberley checked Bracknell before going to Woking where they were all completely sold out. By this point we were bored out of our minds and we could either go home or watch a film. We selected The Boat that Rocked, something I wasn't overly fussed to see (in actual fact I just wanted to watch Red Dwarf that evening and ended up missing the first showing on Dave because of it). I even swore when I saw the movie was 2 hours and 30 minutes long (I remember hearing it was long but Jesus, that's Dark Knight long). In the end I came out pleasantly surprised. It was good and here's why.

I do enjoy Richard Curtis films. He wrote Blackadder, Mr. Bean, Vicar of Dibley, Love Actually and Four Weddings and a Funeral and I enjoyed all of them. I haven't seen Bridget Jones or Notting Hill but I have been told by a female friend that I need to see Bridget Jones, my mum has it on DVD so if I ever catch an incurable disease or you comment enough I will review much as it pains me. But yes Blackadder is definitely his peek. Whilst everything else has it's moments (the puddle in Vicar of Dibley and the American girls in Love Actually spring to mind) Blackadder is the most consistently funny (discounting the first series). As much as I would for more Blackadder, that show ended perfectly and I wouldn't want to sully something that has given me so many laughs (turnips, clucking bell and appleogies).

But the movie, The Boat that Rocked is what Richard Curtis does best, an ensemble British comedy movie, surprisingly not featuring Hugh Grant!! Instead we get pretty much the definitive whose who of British comedy with a few exceptions (Simon Pegg was doing Star Trek, but we got Nick Frost!) So we got pretty much every single good actor in Britain today in another ensemble piece from Richard Curtis. However I'm not sure which one I preferred, this or Love Actually. Love Actually told lots of little stories which crossed over in certain parts and everyone got their own little moments. But in this, everyone is part of an ongoing narrative and it isn't compartmentalised which means that some characters get a big part early on but then nothing for the rest of the movie (specifically that guy from the IT Crowd).

So in some respects it is quite muddled. Whilst the big players like Nick Frost, Rhys Ifans, Bill Nighy and Philip Seymour Hoffman are consistent throughout but the lesser characters sort of get pushed to one side. I will say though that the mass of the ensemble meant that I didn't really feel the 2 hour run time (apart from the burning need to pee because we got there a few minutes late and I was stupid enough to buy a large coke). So I definitely enjoyed the movie for the full run time but it wasn't as hilarious as other recent British comedies such as Hot Fuzz. So whilst the core five performances were all great. The biggest props to Hoffman for perhaps my favourite role in the movie, Nick Frost who never fails to entertain, even when he does shit, and finally the relatively unknown Jason Sturridge who was immensely enjoyable.

There are definitely a fair few very funny moments, the part where they all play "I never" is memorable, Nick Frost trying to get Young Carl to lose his virginity, Thick Kevin, Twatt and Mark, the sexist guy in the world. But there lies the problem. They're just moments that don't lend to a cohesive whole. It seems like it was just a bunch of funny moments in a writers room for a TV show. "Oh we could do this and then this" which whilst being very funny don't add to the plot, which is almost completely handled by Kenneth Brannagh (who again was excellent). It's here the movie seems to fall apart. Richard Curtis' background in television just screams through here, every twenty minutes the movie goes onto a new plot point just to sort say "gosh these guys got into all kinds of wacky situations, didn't they". So the movie seems to suffer from having too many characters and just a lack of cohesion in the story, it doesn't make it bad just a little bit schizophrenic. Especially by the ending which darts from tragedy to this almighty feel good ending (I admit I shed a tear, showing my messed up emotional state)

Overall the movie has some great moments, but that's all they are, moments. The narrative isn't consistent but then again the performances are all round superb. In fact I spent about 20 minutes trying to think where I recognised Elenore the American wife from until I realised she was Betty in Mad Men, showing either my incompetence or at least how much of a brilliant actress she is. Richard Curtis has a skill at writing these "sit back and relax movies" but he hasn't reached a plateau of brilliance since Mr. Bean almost 20 years ago. The movie is funny and enjoyable and I felt the run time fly past (although it'll probably feel different if you watch on DVD) it's just it felt more like Richard Curtis put together 4 episodes of a new TV show and stuck it on the big screen. 7/10

PS. I will say he does seem to have a thing for facts, that little bit at the beginning and end on pirate radio is almost exactly the same as what he did in Love Actually.

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