It seems like an inspired riff: a biopic not about a rock star’s tumultuous and destined rise to fame and fortune, but about his school buddy’s tumultuous and destined parallel journey into failure and obscurity. Always in the shadow of U2, Neil McCormick’s self-annihilated non-career through various Irish bands in the early ‘80s spawned only bitterness, a memoir, and now a semi-comic movie rendition of the saga, in which baby-faced Ben “Prince Caspian” Barnes plays McCormick as an annoying, whiny, narcissistic zero. We have nowhere to go but down from there, unfortunately. Nick Hamm’s movie might be unfunny and thick with clichés (down to Pete Postlethwaite’s final appearance as a lovable, double-entendre-spewing queen), but the black hole of McCormick’s character, much more a fast-talking star-fucker than a musician, quickly consumes all light and hope. The overplaying cast has its highlights: Brit comic Peter Serafinowicz’s drolly, brainless record exec exudes absurdity, and Martin McCann’s Bono seems spot-on without being an impression. But the migraine of a story arc needed sharp comedy reflexes or, at least, a live-wire/slummy star turn and got neither. McCormick’s blog, sustained by snarky music crit, is wittier.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 2, 2011