Most Overlooked Movies Part 2

Thursday, March 11, 2010 12:53 PM By Simon

The Boat That Rocked
Here's the thing...I'm not going to refer to it by it's bastard American title, Pirate Radio. Because I don't like it. The American poster, frankly, is an overstuffed, unsubtle piece of shit that makes sure you know what music appears, who the viewer surrogate/young person is, and who is the hot chick who appears for 15 minutes. The title is blatantly and insultingly trying to appeal to...someone. I don't know. The trailers, in addition, make it seem like Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the only American on board (puns!) was the savior of rocknroll in Britain (which I'm sure none of them liked very much). That's what I think of the entire advertising campaign over here in the USfuckingA.

Alright then. Tis the story of a young man, Young Carl, played by Tom Sturridge, who, in the opening, is sent by dingy to where the Radio Rock boat is always anchored. He has been sent there by his mother, making an appearence later in the form of Emma Thompson, in a misbegotten attempt at straightening his life out after being expelled from school. His godfather, Quentin (Bill Nighy, at his dryest), has agreed to take him in, and introduces him to the rest of the crew: The Count, flamboyant disc jockey played by Hoffman, suave and impossibly lucky Dave (Nick Frost), 'Simple' Simon (Chris O'Dowd), New Zealand 'nut' Angus (Rhys Darby), lesbian cook and only female on the boat Felicity (Katherine Parkinson), the mysterious Midnight Mark (Tom Wisdom), reclusive late-night DJ Smooth Bob (Ralph Brown), and assistants Harold (Ike Hamilton) and Thick Kevin (Tom Brooke).

What proceeds is not a story so much as connected vignettes, more like a series of short sitcom episodes, kind of. Except they are so whimsical, so funny, so deliriously happy, I forgot all my critical thinking and just smirked. Because it is rarely a laugh-out-loud movie, but it's always a big-ass-smirk movie. The ensemble...ness of the whole thing, one of those movies that are so fun (I hate calling movies this. Dude) because it always has a bunch of people who look like they're having fun. It's good if you're not in the mood to dissect a film, just to watch one, but don't want to contribute to the furtherment of shit action movies.

A Life Less Ordinary
I was originally just going to do a whole examination-thing on Danny Boyle, but I'm too lazy. So, here, this is his third movie, as well as the final film in his unofficial Ewan McGregor trilogy, consisting of Shallow Grave and Trainspotting. It's considerably different than the rest, more mainstream...I can't quite place how. As far as dark comedies go, this is pretty dark, though, it's not as dark as Trainspotting.

And, well, this is notable to me because it's one of those movies that make me tolerate otherwise intolerable-to-me actresses. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is to Drew Barrymore, Almost Famous is to Kate Hudson, Sin City to Jessica Alba, even, to an extent, Repo! The Genetic Opera to Paris Hilton. And this is to Cameron Diaz, who I find to epitomize soulless, idiotic, preachy Hollywood actresses, and who Anna faris does a dead-on impersonation of in Lost in Translation. But here, she is almost cool, as a bored, spoiled Celine, twenty-something daughter of a rich businessman. After a disasterous game of William Tell with one of her loathsome would-be suitors (Stanley Tucci), she is dancing on the edge of awesome, I'd dare to say.

Yeah, anyway, Robert, a janitor employed to her father's company is fired, and dumped by his girlfriend. So, he decides to go hold up Mr. Naville, and then kidnaps Celine, who, even though she easily escapes her binds, decides to say, partly out of boredom, partly out of hatred for her father. Meanwhile, angels O'Reilly (Holly Hunter) and Jackson (Delroy Lindo), who are tasked with helping humans find love or whatever, are ordered by Gabriel (Dan Hedaya) to go to earth and pair up some humans that doesn't end in misery or divorce, or they're exiled. Gee, I wonder how this turns out...

Anyway, this movie got a bad rap when it was released, for maybe incoherency or something. And, while it's true, it is a bit self-indulgant, and McGregor and Diaz have no chemistry, I am an infinite Boyle apologist (as I am with Richard Kelly, Quentin Tarantino, Wes Anderson...), and I'll even sit through The Beach, because I like him that much. Or maybe I'm just so starved for an original comedy that is not completely horrible and cliche. It's also notable that here is maybe the first time McGregor whipped out his shit American accent. Whatever. I like it. It may be style over substance, but dammit, what's wrong with that?