“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.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.