Director: Reggie Yates
Main Cast: Reda Elazouar, Elliot Edusah, Jordan Peters, Aaron Shosanya
With the millennium on the horizon, best friends Kidda (Reda Elazouar), Cappo (Elliot Edusah) and Two Tonne (Jordan Peters) embark on a joyride across London to get tickets to the event of the year and a shot at pirate-radio fame. But will their friendship still be standing when the clock hits midnight?
While the title might suggest a tale of fierce marauders on choppy ocean waters, Pirates swaps sailboats for a knackered Peugeot in a light-hearted crusade through London. TV presenter Reggie Yates’ feature debut shamelessly plays on ’90s nostalgia for comedic effect by making playful references to sat navs and ‘Goo-Goo’ (better known as Google nowadays). For today’s youth, it offers a snapshot of the simplicities of yesteryear, but for those a bit longer in the tooth, it is a chance to relive the heyday of the raving era in all of its sweaty, uninhibited glory. Either way, it’s a fun if familiar night-on-the-town romp.
First-time feature director Yates makes a valiant effort to steer the narrative around London’s youth away from the played-out tales of gang violence into a refreshingly low-stakes scavenger hunt. Set on New Year’s Eve 1999, Pirates follows three best friends, Cappo (Elliot Edusah), Two Tonne (Jordan Peters) and Kidda (Reda Elazouar), on a desperate road trip through London in a yellow car — affectionately named Custard Cream — to find tickets for the so-called clubbing event of the millennium.
Pirates effortlessly captures the innocence of the last days of the pre-social media era: a time when looking fly, picking up dates for parties and debating how to pronounce “plantain” were the only things on the agenda. Without a clear plan in sight, the friends run into their fair share of bumps and bruises, including a one-sided scrap with So Solid Crew’s Megaman (Aaron Shosanya) and a contender for the messiest snatch-and-grab at a retail establishment.
For all of its slapstick humour, flashy designer brands and infectious garage bangers, the film’s heart beats loud enough to cut through it all. In typical coming-of-age fashion, the three teens are forced to deal with a crossroad, as Cappo grapples with the decision to leave his friends to chase their pirate-radio dreams without him whilst he heads off to university. However, squeezing in punchlines and funny solo renditions of the Backstreet Boys comes at a price as the film runs out of steam, the Custard Cream making a couple of pit-stops too many.
Pirates isn’t able to fully flesh out the individual journeys of its charming cast. However, it’s a worthwhile trade-off for a good laugh.
Rating: 3 Out Of 5 Barz
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