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'Pirate Radio' throws a party for rock 'n' roll and rebelliousness

Pirate Radio, from writer-director Richard Curtis, is a whimsical telling of the story of rebel broadcasters who reign supreme off the coast of England in the mid-1960s, blasting rock 'n' roll to the nation's youth while the country's official radio stations, run by the British Broadcasting Corp., remain largely stuck in the past.

Our heroes are mostly men (and one woman, who happens to be a lesbian) of Pirate Radio, a station whose headquarters is a tanker anchored in international waters. As they rock out to the Kinks, the Who and one-hit wonders, the government — led by minister Sir Alistair Dormandy (Kenneth Branagh) scowls.

This culture war works mostly as a backdrop to loony, out rageous behavior by the DJs, led by two rivals — the Count (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Gavin (Rhys Ifans). There is a subplot involving a young man named Carl (Tom Sturridge) searching for his father, but mostly, Curtis, who directed Love, Actually, is content to celebrate the music and give the audience a good time.

His casting gives the whole enterprise a boost. Besides Hoffman and Ifans, who play their parts with rambunctious zeal, there is always-amusing Bill Nighy as the station's boss. Emma Thompson has a sharp cameo as Carl's mother, as does Mad Men's January Jones as a heartbreaker.

Curtis also enjoys his musical jokes, naming two of the characters Marianne and Elenore so he could add Leonard Cohen's So Long Marianne and the Turtles' Elenore to the soundtrack.

Pirate Radio retails for $29.98 or $36.98 on Blu-ray.

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