After an appropriate two-day delay from its planned April 15 release out of respect for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, Funny or Die’s first full length movie iSteve has finally been bestowed upon us.
Well, maybe “finally” is the wrong word to use. That would imply there was a significant wait involved. There wasn’t. In fact, the whole point of this movie was to rush to be the first Steve Jobs biopic released and not keep us waiting for the two other Jobs films in the works.
Announced in March, iSteve reportedly was written in three days and filmed in just five to ensure it would be the first to be released. But none of that matters if the movie isn’t funny. So is it? Well, let’s just say Funny or Die could learn a lesson from Apple: being first to market doesn’t make you best.
iSteve chronicles Jobs’ life (solidly portrayed by Justin Long) from his youthful days of meeting Steve Wozniak (played by Lost alum, Jorge Garcia) and spans until the dawn of the iPad. Narrated by the elder, turtle neck-clad Jobs, the story takes several liberties with his actual life. (The creators said most of the research came from reading Jobs’ Wikipedia page. They apparently just skimmed a few sections.)
For example, in this version of the story, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is introduced early and quickly replaces Wozniak as Jobs’ best friend. There’s a brief romance between Jobs and Gates’ real-life wife Melinda Gates that involves a bizarre virtual reality scene. John Sculley doesn’t actually work for Pepsi, but is merely a spy sent by the CEO of Commodore to run Apple. And in one particularly odd non sequitur, the narrating Jobs is depicted as a robot with no explanation. But because it’s a parody, much of this can be overlooked.
But even when overlooking inaccuracies, the movie lacks many actual laughs. (This is a problem considering the Funny or Die logo is on the screen staring at you the entire time.) Most of the comedy comes from the awkward Wozniak consistently being insulted and pushed aside, and from the surreal moments – who knew Jobs met Billy Corgan at Woodstock ’94 and that George Lucas originally pitched the Star Wars prequels in a Pixar meeting? But perhaps the best moments come in Jobs’ meta interactions with the character of Justin Long portraying the “Get a Mac” guy from Apple’s famous advertising campaign. But even with these bright spots, the movie just feels like a 5-10 minute sketch stretched to 80 minutes.
On the other hand, iSteve can be a treat for Apple aficionados and historians. In the midst of all of the inaccuracies there are few facts from Apple’s history. The Apple I and Apple II are fairly accurately depicted and Jobs’ famous 2005 Stanford commencement speech is shown – albeit with a few new twists.
While most people will not learn much from iSteve, the more hardcore Apple fans may want to give it a look – if they can accept the inaccuracies. And at cost of zero dollars and 80 minutes of your life, it might be worth the price … barely.
Note: iSteve contains some crude language and themes.