Warmhearted, with something of a Hallmark vibe, Fisherman’s Friends is not a pick for cynics, but that doesn’t mean it has nothing of substance to say. At one point when Danny calls his London office, we hear a pop hit playing in the background. The soulless, mass-manufactured sound, complete with obscene rap lyrics, contrasts sharply with the authenticity of the shanties and the church recording studio where, a local reveals, the men learned to sing.
That’s not to say the friends are choirboys. We are talking about sailors here, so a bit of salty PG-13 language and a couple of coarse jokes pass between them. Likewise, it’s a shame that Danny and his love interest spend the night together, though this is only implied in a morning-after scene—there’s no sex or nudity on-screen.
Fisherman’s Friends offers the same thing I’d guess is drawing so many to the shanty craze right now. As I watched the many online videos of folks from all different backgrounds layering their voices to sing together, I saw a rebuke of the forces that work so hard each day to sow enmity and division. I saw people eager to enjoy rather than ridicule the past. I saw people starving for community, hungry to tear down barriers to cultural exchange. Most of all, I saw people tired of anger and isolation and ready for a good, old-fashioned singalong.