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4.3 out of 5 stars29
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 2 June 2011
I loved this movie. I'm not a huge U2 fan but I grew up with them being played by my dad, who was a massive fan in the 80's, so I knew enough about their early years to recognise various time points but you don't need to be a U2 fan to watch this because it's not about them, it's about the McCormick brothers and their struggle to rise from the shadow of their friends, who happened to go on to become one of the biggest bands on the planet.
The music featured by 'Shook Up' is good and I have been humming a couple of them since I saw the movie. I think Ben Barnes and Robert Sheehan were great as Neil and Ivan, I liked the eagerness with which Ben portrayed Neil's determination to make it big without using his old friend (Bono) as a stepping stone. Also impressive job on the Irish accent and a great singing voice too.
Pete Postlewaite makes his last onscreen appearance in this and I have to say he was one of my favourite characters, despite being featured little but considering how ill he was it's understandable, also Peter Serafinowicz as 'Hammond' is fantastic, especially in the scene we first meet him in.
Overall I enjoyed this alot and I wish it got more notice. If you liked The Commitments then I recommend it as their writers were involved in this and the humour runs along the same lines.
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on 10 May 2011
I think Killing Bono is a very charming, funny and entertaining film. I'm not a U2 fan, but luckily this film focuses on the McCormick brothers and their desperate attempts to achieve the same sort of fame and fortune as their former schoolmates. There are good performances from Robert Sheehan and the late Pete Postlethwaite, but for me Ben Barnes steals the show with his very endearing portrayal of Neil McCormick, who's envy and bitterness towards U2 lead him to make one disastrous mistake after another.
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This 2011 comedy-with-a-hard-edge derives its screenplay from Neil McCormick's semi-autobiographical 2003 book `Killing Bono: I Was Bono's Doppelgänger'. Shot mainly in Belfast (which doubles for the film's 1980s Dublin and London locations) and directed by Nick Hamm, the result is clever, witty and entertaining.

The core of the story is that, contemporaneously with the embryonic U2 - who initially called themselves `The Hype' - another schoolboy band in Dublin led by the McCormack brothers, Neil (the older, played by Ben Barnes) and Ivan (the younger, talented, guitar player played by Robert Sheehan) was starting up. Neil believes his band to be better than Bono's outfit, so when Bono asks Neil to release his brother Ivan from his band because he wants him for U2, Neil declines - the first in a long line of poor decisions on Ivan's behalf which costs his younger brother an `A-list' musical career.

The story then develops as in parallel with U2's rapid international success, Neil and Ivan stumble from one hilarious episode to the next and suffer continuous frustration and disappointment in `making it big'. Invariably, Neil makes poor decisions even when opportunity comes knocking and always believes his band - `Shook Up' - can make it with no help from U2, who offer to get them a recording contract and a place as support band on their tour, which Neil declines without ever consulting his brother. The tribulations include becoming indebted to a psychopathic Irish mafia gang leader; playing sleazy strip joints to an apathetic audience; scheduling a breakthrough gig to coincide with The Pope's mass in Phoenix Park; and escape to London where they again miss the chance of a recording contract but rent a run-down loft apartment from the excellent and extremely camp Pete Postlethwaite (in his final film role) who opens up a whole new social life for the boys.

Success in a small way did come eventually to the McCormacks' band but they might have been better known, and sooner, without Neil's self-confessed blunders. The story is fast-paced and the script good with plenty of laugh-out-loud dialogue, especially when involving Peter Serafinowicz as the frequently lethal but narcissistic Irish Mafia king, making a great success of a difficult role. Martin McCann is particularly convincing as Bono: he even looks like him, and has his persona to a `T'.

`Killing Bono' is a good way to spend a couple of hours and almost everyone I know who has seen it is of the opinion that it deserves a wider audience. You don't need to be a U2 fan, or even a rock music fan, to enjoy it.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 23 July 2011
Killing Bono is one of those films which has received surprisingly little public recognition, but which has been rated highly by nearly everyone who has seen it. It certainly deserves a much wider audience.

The story line is based on Neil and Ivan McCormick, who were contemporaries of Bono and the other members of U2. Like U2, they had a sixth form band and high aspirations. Neil always felt that his band should be at least as successful as Bono's and as U2 became the most successful band on the planet, this rivalry prompts him to make a series of disastrous mistakes as he seeks the success he craves. As the older brother he tends to make decisions, normally bad ones, without consulting Ivan. Ivan is also blissfully unaware that Bono wanted to recruit him for U2, but Neil vetoed it, and is understandably less than delighted when he does eventually discover this. Neil seems to have a special talent for getting Shook Up booked for the most inappropriate gigs. The one which clashed with the Pope's visit to Ireland and another in a sleazy strip joint being particularly hilarious.

This is quite a light hearted film, at times very funny and the sound track is excellent. When we hear the music of Shook Up, the McCormicks' band, it is actually rather good which really makes you wonder why they sunk without trace and were not more successful. There are some very good performances, notably by the late Pete Postlethwaite making his last appearance as Karl, the landlord, and Peter Serafinowicz as Hammond, the wonderfully insincere agent. Highly recommended!
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on 20 November 2011
Based on the memoir I Was Bono's Doppelganger by Neil McCormick, Killing Bono tells the story of two Dublin brothers' attempt at rock stardom while school contemporaries Bono, Edge, Clayton and Mullen go on to rule the world.

An interesting enough premise, but the results are mixed. The Clement/ La Frenais screenplay lacks the realism and the bite of, say Auf Wiedersehen Pet or The Commitments. Also, the film is at times just a bit too reminiscent of the latter.

So, what you get here is something too far away from the source story's reality to have the ring of truth, and yet too based around a true story to be properly imagined. It falls between two stools in this sense.

U2 themselves are briliiantly portrayed in the beginning - it's a shame that their part in the subplot thereafter is reduced mainly to conversations about their phenomenal success, and album covers owned by the McCormick brothers: Boy in the front basket of a motorbike, War on a dartboard, with one of the brothers chucking darts at it.

The story is slight, but the pace is fine and it's enthusiastically acted by the main players. Strong supporting appearances by Peter Serafinowicz (well, the guy is a genius, so no surprise there...), and the late Pete Postlethwaite camping it up as the McCormick's landlord.

All in all it's a 3.5 from me.
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This movie is based on a true story. There were 2 friendly rival bands playing in Dublin. One of them changed their name to "U2" and we know the rest of that story. Bono, wanted the guitar player off the rival band. Rather than directly ask the guitar player, Ivan, he asks his brother Neil, the band's leader, who refuses. Neil believes his band will become better than U2 (who haven't cut their first album) and he is doing Ivan a favor. Ivan doesn't realize he had a chance to play for what will be the world's most popular band until...

Meanwhile, in order to become big, the band gets involved with the Irish mafia. They end up playing strip joints before borrowing money to go to London. Finally near the end of the movie, we understand the title. Neil believes all his problems are caused by Bono...if he could just kill him. The movie title is a hook and has little to do with this extraordinary film, a must for rock fans.

Martin McCann did an excellent job playing Bono. The movie was funny and entertaining.

"Remember only this: the measure of a man is what's left when fame falls away... oh, and another thing: get as much sex as you can!"

Parental Guide: F-bomb, sex, nudity.
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on 11 September 2011
Having read the book before I saw the film, I knew that it would be a great film with loads of laughs and cringworthy moments. This film was all that. You can't help but shake your head whenever Neil (Ben Barnes) turns down every great offer by the record companies. If it's handed to you on a plate, you'd take it! I would. I found this film very entertaining and slightly hearwarming (as this was the final film of Pete Postlewaithe). The script could not have been written any wittier then it was. The love/hate relationship between Neil and Ivan (Robert Sheehan) is really moving and humerous throughout the film. But it is the core story that makes the film very interesting to watch. Iv been a U2 fan since I was a kid, though it may not be their story, it is how one guy tried to make it better then the band with his brother and failed. The incredible thing is that life does not always turn out the way you want it to, but it can turn out to be good eventually.
Ben Barnes really does go to town with his musical talent and its no surprise how good he is as a veritile actor. Very recommended and a joy to watch when you think life is going bonkers for you!
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on 11 February 2012
Laugh out loud funny, endearingly hopeless characters and real heart - this film is great fun and just occasionally the music is OK too. Ben Barnes and Robert Sheehan are brilliant and completely believable as the brothers whose band never quite makes it and the film owes a lot to their willingness to make total idiots of themselves. Loved it.
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on 28 March 2013
I don't care what anyone else says about this film - I love it. I tend to read reviews before I watch the film, so I started with not much hope as most of the reviews said that it wasn't especially worth watching. However, 10 minutes in, I was totally captivated by the story and the plot.

Firstly I must say that I loved the music in this film. Many have said that the songs were the let down of the whole film, but I think that without the songs this film wouldn't have been as good as it was. The plot of the film is pleasantly simple: two brothers who want their band to succeed over fellow classmates' band U2. From the off, this film managed to grab the interest of the audience and the development of the two brothers' relationship throughout the film was enjoyable to watch, especially as it was quite lifelike: brothers do not always get along.

Ben Barnes as Neil McCormick was perfect for the role. I think he played the character to exactly the right tone: we as an audience aren't really supposed to like Neil because he always makes the wrong choices, effecting both him and others around him, and the way which Ben Barnes manages to convey the character's outlook of his decisions sets a perfect tone for the film. Robert Sheehan as Ivan McCormick is personally my favourite character as the younger brother who (spoiler alert) is stopped from being in U2 by Neil's bad decisions. A lot of reviews I have read about this character have said that he didn't live up to expectations, however I feel that, similarly to Ben Barnes, Robert Sheehan managed to capture both the innocence and the raw emotion of Ivan. The other characters in the film were also likeable and sometimes comedic in the film, with special mention of the late Pete Postlethwaite, Martin McCann and Peter Serafinowicz as landlord Karl, Bono/Paul Hewson and manager Will Hammond respectively.

To sum up, this film is one of the best films I have seen in a while, with the right tone, pacing and plot lines as well as developed and interesting characters. I have watched it several times, and I would definitely recommend this to anyone who asked about it who was looking for an enjoyable Friday film night or just for a laugh. And for any Robert Sheehan fans out there, he bends over. In skinny jeans. Just saying.
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on 31 August 2011
I absolutely love this film! Whether you're a fan of U2 or not it doesn't really matter as the film is based around Neil and Ivan McCormick and their own struggle to find fame when living in the shadow of school mates U2.

It's so unfortunate that this hasn't been a big hit, you can see from the other reviews that everyone who actually has seen it really enjoyed it. I'm not usually one for literally laughing out loud during films, but Killing Bono had a few moments where I couldn't help myself

I can't really put into words how much I love it - it was so good at the cinema that it was one of the few films I have preordered to get them on DVD as soon as possible

Watch this film now!!
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