Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.



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Film #287


A comedic look at the life of Steve Jobs.

Year 1, Day 292

BEFORE: I’m doing something a little bit different today. Instead of taking yet another day off in the marathon, I’m deciding to break the rules a little bit and watch something not released in theaters (at least not yet) but still a feature film. Yes, I’ll be watching iSteve, the Steve Jobs “documentary” from Funny or Die that was released for free online just this week.

AFTER: I’ve had a lot of interesting film experiences recently and iSteve adds to this list. Obviously the creation is interesting in and of itself (it was written in three days, shot in five, an reportedly edited all in iMovie, and released online) and this results in similarly interesting critical points. Overall, iSteve has some appeal, but the story they tell (which varies from Jobs’ real life) raises some pretty major question marks.

Right off the bat, it’s pretty obvious this is an extremely low-budget production. The visual quality (especially in the lighting) as well as the audio quality aren’t even at what I’d consider an independent level (read: non-studio production) - it really is like a high-quality home movie. But surprising or not, this is not where my problems lie. Seeing the quality be at this level was on par with what I was expecting and therefore I find acceptable. iSteve is not a summer blockbuster nor does it need to be. In fact the level of quality actually adds to the overall style and feel of the film - a joking and semi-fictional take on the life of Steve Jobs. It’s meant to be a thrown together web video, not a traditional film, and it nails that aspect.

My problems with the film, and I have many of them, all lie in the story. A lot of liberties were taken with how the told Jobs’ life - many things were accurate with the real thing, but there were many radical alterations not including the changes they made for the comedic elements. The comedic changes I thought were acceptable and in many ways funny (Jobs’ affinity for soda which led to the John Sculley connection, the enhancement of the consumer attraction to Apple products). But the other changes just left me puzzled, and in some cases, had me scratching my head. The biggest offender is the relationship between Steve Jobs (Justin Long) and Melinda Gates (Michaela Watkins). Not only did it not provide any laughs (was that the goal?) but it brings up more questions. Why didn’t they include Jobs’ actual relationship with Chris-Ann Brennan and why didn’t they include his wife, Laurene Powell, either?

The bottom line is this: iSteve is not the average film for this movie marathon. The production value is like that of a high-end home movie rather than a theatrical release but it works with the feel of the film. The story however leaves much to be desired. I’d recommend giving it a watch if you’re familiar with the story or a fan of Apple and Jobs’ life. But besides that, there really isn’t that much of a reason to see iSteve.

RATING: 3 out of 5