“Killing Bono,” reviewed

“Killing Bono,” reviewed (photo)

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What’s worse: having a dream and never coming close to it, or getting your hands on your dream and having it slip through your fingers? Neil McCormick, the subject of “Killing Bono” and the writer of the memoir upon which the film is based, would almost certainly pick the latter. Neil grew up dreaming of being a rock star. So did one of his classmates, a short but charismatic guy with cool hair named Paul Hewson. They went to the same school in Dublin and played double bills together with their respective bands: Nick with The Undertakers, Paul with The Hype. But then Paul changed his name to Bono, and his buddy David became The Edge, and The Hype became U2. As for Neil’s band, well you’ve never heard of The Undertakers, have you?

“Killing Bono” is about how it feels to be close enough to your dream to taste it but not close enough to enjoy it. Neil is so serious about becoming famous on his own merits that he refuses Bono’s repeated offers for help, even as U2 becomes one of the biggest bands in the world. Part of it is a perverse sense of pride; part of it is the fact that Neil refused to let his brother and lead guitarist Ivan join U2 back when they were still The Hype. Even worse: he never told Ivan about the offer. Knowing he kept that success from his brother — and then kept that fact a secret — gnaws away at his soul.

Dreams dashed, hope destroyed, families torn asunder; it sounds like a pretty heavy movie. And it is called “Killing Bono;” It even opens with Neil (“The Chronicles of Narnia”‘s Ben Barnes) hitting rock bottom and deciding to assassinate the lead singer of U2. But actually the title and the opening are both fake-outs; the movie is, despite its seemingly dark subject matter, a sort of absurdist comedy. Neil’s repeated career flameouts are played more for head-shaking laughs than existential angst. And even at its worst, his sibling rivalry with Ivan (Robert Sheehan) barely rises above the level of wacky, brotherly shenanigans.

To the film’s credit, that’s an interesting choice for the material, which is loosely based on real events but apparently also includes a fair amount of dramatic license. The brothers are so comically unlucky that their scuffling music career is kind of funny, particularly while they’re living on canned beans in the dilapidated flat of gay older gentlemen, played charmingly by the late Pete Postlethwaite in what ultimately turned out to be his final role. On the other hand, Neil is such a hard-headed fool, and so quick to turn down offers of support from Bono, his story is sometimes more frustrating than it is funny. Sometimes it’s hard to laugh at someone when you want to punch them in the face.

Still, Barnes and Sheehan have good chemistry together — important since they’re onscreen together in nearly every scene — and they do an impressive job on the film’s soundtrack, performing most of the music by The Undertakers and later their successors, Shook Up!, all of which is better than you’d expect from rockers that never hit the big time.

At its best, “Killing Bono” is an amusingly fluffy musical biopic. Things worked out okay in the end for the McCormick brothers, though not quite in the way they’d always dreamed (Google them if you’re curious). Things worked out okay in the end for “Killing Bono” as well. They didn’t work out great, but they turned out pretty good. I guess in this case, that’s sort of fitting.

“Killing Bono” opens Friday in New York City and November 11 in Los Angeles. If you see it, let us know what you think. Write to us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar


IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”

Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”

But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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