In the 1990s, the use of pirate radio (i.e. running a radio broadcast without a proper license) was integral for up-and-coming musicians and DJs to hone their craft and build a cult following that could potentially catapult them into the mainstream. Reggie Yates’ bromance comedy Pirates is a much a metaphor for the movement as it is a reminiscing of it: The film’s use of music and host of fresh face actors makes Pirates an underground hit that could launch its creative team into the more general public eye.
Pirates follows Two Tonne (Jordan Peters), Cappo (Elliot Edusah), and Kidda (Reda Elazouar), three lifelong friends and pirate radio DJs who are on the cusp of adulthood and its many challenges. On this particular 1999 New Year’s Eve, this friend group will have to encounter former flames, old grudges, and their own insecurities in order to get into Twice As Nice Y2K, the hottest party in London.
Throughout Pirates, Yates wholly recreates the world as it was in 1999. From technological trinkets like the Nintendo 64 and Tamagotchi to the U.K. Garage soundtrack to pop culture references like The Backstreet Boys, this film is seeped in 90s nostalgia. However, Yates takes it one step further, by also recounting the general emotions of the time period. Much like the sentimental surrounding Y2K, all three characters find themselves excited for a new era while grappling with the doubt and uncertainty that the future brings. The overall tone of the film and how it relates to late 90s attitudes elevates Pirates above a simple pop culture reference marathon.
While Yates’ latest is set during the 90s, the overall narrative structure is clearly inspired by mid-2000s buddy comedies, particularly Greg Mottola’s Superbad. Nearly all the major plot beats of the film are of the same ilk as a raunchy coming of age film, while lacking much of the hilarity typically found in the genre. However, the chemistry between the trio of friends in Pirates is so electric, that the film remains a joyous romp. The authentic camaraderie between Peters, Edusah, and Elazouar often makes the film feel as though the actors are letting audience into the inside jokes of their friendship. When the credits began to roll, I felt slightly disappointed, as I wanted to continue watching these characters interact with one another.
With its rapid 1st act pacing, Pirates does take some time getting into. But once you begin to connect with Two Tonne, Cappo, and Kidda, Yates’ film becomes a joy to watch.
The Silver Lining
While the chemistry between the leads is undeniable, it’s Pirates‘ soundtrack that is the film’s biggest selling point. Pirates‘ soundtrack acts as a exciting gateway for those unfamiliar with 90s U.K. Garage music. Anecdotally, I utilized Shazam nearly half a dozen times so I could add songs from the film to my personal playlist. From Wookie and Sticky to Sia and Starship, Pirates easily contains the best soundtrack of the year (so far).
Pirates releases on VOD and on demand Friday, April 1st.