Thursday, November 7, 2013


I may own an iMac, but I’m definitely not on the Apple bandwagon. Overpriced, overcomplicated and sometimes infuriating business practices keep me from buying an iPhone or an iPad. The only reason I have an iMac is because I am a filmmaker and I needed something to edit my projects on since PCs usually suck ass in that regard. But whatever, they have a cult-like following and there’s nothing I can say that will stop that from being so. However, they aren’t immune from being satirized.

That’s where Funny or Die comes in. This past April they released their first feature length film online, iSteve, which is a very fictionalized unauthorized biography of the late Steve Jobs.
iSteve follows the adventures of young visionary programmer Steve Jobs (Justin Long) and his protégé Steve Wozniak (Jorge Garcia), founders of the Apple computer company.

The story is told with the tried and true cliché of flashbacks, with Justin Long playing an older Steve Jobs telling the audience his life story as if it were a keynote presentation. I really enjoyed that part of the storytelling, as it played up to the public image of the man as we all remember him. Unfortunately most everything else is a hackneyed mess.
Just like the company this is making fun of, I was not completely sold on this film from the start. It looks extremely cheap and as if it was produced in the space of a week. Actually it resembles a feature length sketch that would be feature on the Funny or Die website; a sketch that was stretched well beyond what would constitute something watchable. If it were a 45 minute short film I think it would have worked better. Instead it’s a marginally funny comedy that outstays its welcome long before the end credits roll.

I do think that Justin Long (Galaxy Quest, Drag Me To Hell, Jeepers Creepers) is fantastic as Steve Jobs. This guy is a natural comedic actor and proves it whenever the material he’s working with here goes off the rails or becomes mundane. The fact that he was in all those Mac vs. PC commercials makes his involvement all the funnier. Jorge Garcia (Lost) is funny as well as the clingy Wozniak. He doesn’t have much to do other than stand in the corner and look longingly at the lead, but he makes the most of the screentime he’s given. Michaela Watkins (Trophy Wife) gets a few moments of pure comedy gold as well.
The acting isn’t the problem with iSteve. It’s the stinker script and boring direction by Ryan Perez, a vet of many Funny or Die videos. He seems to think the material he came up with is absolutely hilarious when in reality it’s only kinda sorta funny. Sure there is some good stuff here, like an awesome meta moment when Jobs sees Jeepers Creepers on TV and proclaims that he must have Justin Long be the face of the company. Outside of that there are nothing but odd montages, painfully unfunny stretches of nothing and awkward internet style humor (the kind of stuff that’s funny for about 10 seconds). He has no real style and didn’t attempt to broaden his visuals for the bigger budget. Like I said earlier, this looks extremely cheap and thrown together, and the script feels the same.

What was the point of that scene where Jobs turns out to be a robot? I didn’t find it funny, only a distraction because it felt like padding to make the movie a minute or so longer. The whole movie is like that. It’s sad because this could have been a wildly entertaining film if someone else were behind it.
The script does touch on all the major moments of Jobs’ life, from making the first Apple computer in his garage to being ousted from the company by greedy shareholders to his mammoth comeback as the visionary we all know him as today. Some of it works, some doesn’t. Some parts are played for laughs and some are treated too seriously for a movie being advertised as a straight up comedy.

I have to bring up the fact that the make-up used on Justin Long to portray the older Steve Jobs is a disaster. He looks like a drag king.

I’m told that this is a better movie than the Ashton Kutcher starring Jobs, which came out earlier this year. Once I saw that Kutcher was in that one I steered clear. This is good as an alternative choice to that, but even then it’s not all that good itself. It’s worth a watch on Netflix streaming, which is how I watched it. But I’ll never watch it again.

2 out of 5

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