The setting is 1966, when pirate radio stations provided our pop music. According to Curtis, the BBC only played 45 minutes of pop every day – no wonder we all listened to Radio Caroline. There really was a Marine Broadcasting Offences Act which was passed in 1967, making it illegal to advertise with or supply a pirate station and this effectively closed down the pirate ships.
Of course our pirates on Radio Rock are all lovely people; they might argue a bit but basically they are lovely caring guys (oh and one lesbian who is the cook) who look after each other. Branagh, in contrast, is an evil politician who is prepared to let people die to get his way. Free love abounds but everyone is actually looking for their one true love. Not exactly subtle, but you don’t go to see the film for subtlety; you go because you will actually laugh out loud and because the music is fantastic. There is a parody of Titanic with people rushing along flooded corridors and brave rescues – only here the boat is an old tub not a luxury liner, a man rescues his newfound father and - well, I won’t spoil the ending. (And the music is better – not that I’m biased or anything!)
The film isn’t perfect: for one thing, like Titanic, it is too long at 2 ¼ hours and the longueurs come mainly from the love scenes which are often over-sentimental and mawkish. Curtis seems to find it difficult to avoid milking a scene to the very last drop. He also cannot resist finishing with a moral and a plug for rock and roll.
Extra information that may be of interest:
1) Six weeks after the pirate radio ships closed down, the BBC launched Radio 1
2) Radio Caroline still exists, having gone through many transformations.
Two hours of 60s music and outrageous acting and fun – sounds like a good night out to me.