In late-70s Dublin, brothers Neil and Ivan (Barnes and Sheehan) form a band called The Undertakers, creating a friendly rivalry with their friends Paul, David, Larry and Adam (McCann, Mark Griffin, Sean Doyle and David Tudor), who form The Hype. Then The Hype changes its name to U2 and becomes the biggest band in the world. Over the years, Neil's bull-headed attitude scuppers every chance he and Ivan get, even when they find minor fame in London with the help of manager/girlfriend Gloria (Ritter). he also indebts them to an Irish gangster (Townsend).
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To wit: Jude (Jim Sturgess) washes ashore to seek out his absent father, and meets raffish Princeton student Maxwell (Joe Anderson). The fast friends wind up in New York's counterculture scene, along with Max's sister Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood), and with a gaggle of musicians, artists, and radicals, navigate the kind of historical sixties tumult often seen in textbooks and TV miniseries. Along the way they encounter psychedelic gurus played by celebrity guests, like Dr. Robert (Bono) and Mr. Kite (Eddie Izzard). This may start to sound like excess until you consider the restraint the screenwriters have shown in failing to include any characters named Michelle, Eleanor Rigby, Bungalow Bill, or Rocky Raccoon.
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Flushed Away is a prototypical anthropomorphic-fish-out-of-water tale, about a pampered pet rat named Roddy St. James (voiced by Hugh Jackman) who gets accidentally flushed down the toilet of his owners' posh Kensington flat and ends up out of his element in a rat-sized version of London down in the sewers. His attempts to make his way back up top get him mixed up with a sassy lass, Rita (Kate Winslet), who is on the run from a local crime boss and his thugs. Of course, because this is an animated family film, the boss is an ill-tempered toad and one of the henchmen is an albino former lab rat, but the ideas are universal.
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The setting is North Dublin, where Jimmy Rabbite (Robert Arkins) is trying to simultaneously shrug off his parents' bad taste and the dole-driven life that surrounds him. Jimmy carries a deep and abiding love for soul music of the pre-Motown era - Wilson Pickett, Jackie Wilson, and so on - though he understandably has a hard time convincing his friends and family that soul isn't an exclusively black music. In a video store, Jimmy plays old-school soul tapes to the unbelievers before uttering the film's funniest and most poignant line: "The Irish are the blacks of Europe. Dubliners are the blacks of Ireland. North Dubliners are the blacks of Dublin."
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