PHOTO: Rhys Ifans, left, is DJ Gavin Canavagh and Bill Nighy is station manager Quentin in the comedy “Pirate Radio.”

Pirate Radio (Universal, Blu-ray or standard DVD, R, 117 min.). The film is set in 1966, when the British music invasion of the United States was well underway – and while we hear The Kinks, The Hollies and The Rolling Stones here, we do not hear The Beatles. However, in Great Britain, rock ‘n’ roll was barely heard on the state-controlled radio. So, clever businessmen started broadcasting rock ‘n’ roll from the high seas, outside of Britain’s jurisdiction, bringing joy to more than 25 million listeners a day.

Those are the facts the film, written and directed by Richard Curtis (writer of “Notting Hill” and “Four Weddings and a Funeral”), is based on. The story itself is more pop than rock, kind of a “WKRP in Cincinnati” aboard ship. It is a zany lot of characters, whom we meet through the naïve young newcomer. He is Carl (soon to be called Little Carl), the godson of station manager Quentin (the always wonderful Bill Nighy). Carl is played by relative newcomer Tom Sturridge, who brings a refreshing face. His mother (Emma Thompson as Charlotte in a second-half cameo) has parked him on the boat as he has been thrown out of school for smoking (both cigarettes and weed). That means he fits right in with the rest of the crew, other than the fact he’s still a virgin.

The head DJ is The Count (Philip Seymour Hoffman), but he soon is challenged by the return of radio icon Gavin Cavanaugh (Rhys Ifans), who had headed to the States for more money and glory. The crew and DJs never seem to go ashore, so every other Saturday women are ferried out to them. This is basically a coming-of-age story for Carl, but when the government — Kenneth Branagh as uptight Sir Alistair Dormandy and Jack Davenport (TV’s “Flash Forward) as his lackey Dominic Twatt — finally gets the at-seas radio stations made illegal, it sets up an emotionally-high ending.

The music is great throughout — hey, it is the ’60s, when music was at its best and most inventive. Particularly fine, and fun, is the tying in of two songs to female characters, “Carrie Anne” by The Hollies and “Elenore” by The Turtles. In England, the film was called “The Boat That Rocked.”

Exclusive to Blu-ray are six featurettes: Curtis, Hoffman, Branagh and Nighy discussing the influence pirate radio had; Curtis, Hoffman, Chris O’Dowd (DJ Simple Simon) and Hoffman discuss the life-changing aspects of ’60s music; Curtis, O’Dowd, Rhys Darby and Ifans discuss filming at sea; Nick Frost and O’Dowd discuss the dry-land set and Darby gives a tour; Tom Wisdom (DJ Mark, who gets all the women) gives a tour of his cabin; and Frost (DJ Doctor Dave), Ifans and O’Dowd discuss the fun of learning to be a pirate DJ. There also is nearly an hour of deleted scenes (three exclusive to Blu-ray) in both versions and audio commentary by Curtis, producer Hillary Bevan Jones and actors Frost and O’Dowd. Grade: film and extras 3 stars

Rating guide: 5 stars = classic; 4 stars = excellent; 3 stars = good; 2 stars = fair; dog = skip it

Additional reviews are available online at and include the Blu-ray debut of “Apollo 13” and the ancient Chinese military drama “Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon.”