As promised, I have watched FunnyOrDie.com’s fictionalized account of Steve Jobs’s life entitled iSteve. As threatened, here is the review. (By the way, this whole review could be considered a spoiler—of the movie or your appetite for blogs—so if you’re one of those people, avert your eyes.)
For those who fail to slavishly follow the genius that is Justin Long and his slow-shuttle-to-the-stars career trajectory, let me break off, like a metaphorical Kit Kat of Knowledge, the important chunks for you. iSteve is FunnyOrDie.com’s longest self-produced piece of content ever. And not just from a gee-this-skit-sure-feels-like-it’ll-never-end standpoint. Clocking in at 78 minutes, iSteve is not quite a feature-length film unless most of your trips to the multiplex involve films about Pooh. Indeed.
The movie, claim the producers, was written in three days and filmed in five. Apparently, they were under the impression that there was some sort of X Prize for beating Ashton Kutcher’s forthcoming Jobs to market. Granted, I assume this boast was tongue-in-cheek. You know, a joke. Except it’s not remarkably funny. Which, as it happens, can be said of the entire film. But more on that in a bit. First, you should know that Justin “I’m a Mac” Long stars as Jobs and Jorge “I Escaped from ‘Alcatraz'” Garcia as The Woz. Second, you should know that Long, in latter-day Jobs form, sports what can only be described as an experiment in Chia beards gone horribly, horribly askew. Yet, unlike anything on CNN, you can’t look away.
The movie chronicles Jobs’s life from his travels to India in 1974 up to the initial engineering of the iPad. And, as best as I can tell, it faithfully follows the narrative laid out in Walter Isaacson’s authorized biography Steve Jobs. Of course, I haven’t read that book, so I pray to God that I am wrong. Because iSteve has taken the facts, events and people in Jobs’s life and tossed them into a Blendtec to play Will It Blend? And, like a those kale-and-tofu smoothies that one girl at work (you know the one) keeps telling you are deliciously cleansing, iSteve is also a tad lumpy and not as satisfying as one would hope.
The chief problem is that one already has to be rather intimately familiar with the entwined stories of Jobs and Apple to both understand what’s going on and to find most of the jokes funny. At least the ones that actually are. Here are a few examples of such wackiness:
Jobs’s main creative breakthroughs from the late ’90s onward came from dropping LSD with Smashing Pumpkins front man Billy Corrigan.
John Sculley was a Commodore mole sent to bring Apple to its knees.
Wozniak was a social misfit and outcast even within Apple who turned to unloading semis after Jobs was booted.
Melinda Gates was the Yoko Ono of a budding Supernerd Alliance between Bill Gates and Jobs. She would go on to make sweet virtual love with Steve during a brief, Friends-like “break” in her relationship with Bill.
Bill Gates will cold-cock you like a skunked 40 of Colt 45.
At a glance, these situations sound like good foundations for comedy, assuming you get their inside-baseball references. And they are. It’s the executions that are lacking. The whole production is undercooked. Which is sad because I think this faux bio could have been pretty funny. They just needed six more days: After writing for three, they should’ve walked away for three and then revisited the script for three days of rewrites. That’s not an uncommon practice in most forms of writing. Blogs like this being the exception that definitely proves the rule.
I don’t mean to assert that iSteve is a stink bomb on the level of MobileMe’s launch. There are many funny lines and even a few scenes that are humorous for the duration. Justin Long as Jobs berating another actor playing Justin Long comes to mind. The production values are quite good for something shot so quickly, and the actors are people you actually know, at least at the level of “Hey! It’s that guy from that thing!” So that’s something.
If you’re looking for something to watch while attempting to fix your boss’s Excel macros and you’re already decently versed in Apple lore, iSteve may be just the ticket for you. At the very least, it will cleanse your palate for more Grumpy Cat videos.
My rating: Two Holes out of five.