Pirates Review: Reggie Yates’ Debut is Nostalgic and Hilariously Charming

After the surprise success of the Kurupt FM group’s People Just Do Nothing: Big In Japan in the Summer – a spinoff of the mockumentary show People Just Do Nothing about a group running a pirate radio station – it seemed that Pirates was suddenly in a very good position to acquire large audiences and, from the looks of the trailers, large praise to match. Unfortunately, with the film now out in the U.K., it seems that few have caught on and gone to see the film, in spite of its comic quality from director and DJ Reggie Yates. Even a preview screening only contained two people, but that uncanny isolation didn’t stop either of us from consistently laughing out loud, which probably speaks volumes about the quality of the comedy in Pirates.

Pirates is a short and sweet teen-comedy about a trio of teenaged friends, now just entering the intimidating world of adulthood, who set their sights on getting into the most prestigious party on the 1999-2000 New Years’ Eve/Day. The audience is placed with Elliot Edusah’s Cappo (seen previously in the Alex Wheatle episode of Small Axe!) who is returning from university to see his friends for New Year who stayed home and got jobs. Things have changed, but their relationship is as strong as ever… right? If you’re film-literate, chances are you can predict many of the plot points that Pirates will follow from my brief synopsis there, and most of the time you would be right I admit, but this film is more so about the way that the story is told than the story itself – and thankfully, that story is told with youthful exuberance and a purer joy than has been seen in cinema in a little while.

With Yates taking his love for music and meshing it beautifully with a clear passion for film and youth culture, this nostalgic film is brief but sticks the landing thanks largely to the chemistry between the three leads and especially to the incredible comic timing of Reda Elazouar’s Kidda (or Kid) who would have been the surest bet for a newcomer if this film had gotten the spotlight it deserved. The visual language is great, too, thankfully not falling into the pit of trying to copy Edgar Wright’s slick editing but instead sticking to its guns and using the edits in a way that compliments the pacing and the craft of many of the jokes rather than falling into homage as too many recent British comedies (and commercials, actually!) have been.

The chemistry of the cast, the great visuals and the fun soundtrack deserve their credit, but to not mention the incredible costumes would be to sin. The Moschino outfits at the end of this film genuinely deserve an Oscar nod for costume design because damn they’re great. For a directorial debut, Yates has proven that he has some great potential as he has made a stylistic, charming debut feature and written a really funny screenplay, but don’t take my word for it – go and see the film!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Pirates (15) can still be seen in some cinemas across the UK, with special screenings on New Year’s Eve. Watch the trailer below:

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