Funny Or Die takes bite out of Apple

Justin Long as Steve Jobs in 'iSteve.'
April 28, 2013

There is little doubt that Steve Jobs changed the face of computing as we now know it. His legacy with Apple was one marked by Shakespearean levels of hubris, success and ultimately tragedy, so it is no wonder that his passing in 2011 sent scribes to their MacBooks, hungry to take his legend and adapt it to the big screen.

The first of these films, “jOBS,” starring Ashton Kutcher as the enigmatic nerd, was released to a lukewarm reception at January's Sundance Film Festival (it will receive a global roll-out in June).

The comedy website Funny or Die chose Jobs as the subject for its first foray into feature films with “iSteve,” which it is now offering for free to stream on its site. For those who may be unfamiliar with Funny or Die, it is a site founded by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, the actor and director who have churned out some of the funnier comedies of the decade (“Anchorman,” “Talladega Nights,” “The Other Guys”). The site itself has been a launchpad for many a pop culture comedy phenomenon, including “The Landlord” (featuring McKay’s swearing then-2-year-old daughter), “Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis,” and “Drunk History.” The site hosts a bunch of original content from big names in and out of comedy, such as Ryan Gosling, Jim Carrey, Patrick Stewart and Jerry Seinfeld.

It seems to be the 21st century’s answer to Mad magazine or “National Lampoon.” And, when it comes to “iSteve,” perhaps just like those magazines, it should stick to what it knows best and leave the filmmaking for the adults.

“iSteve” plays like a “Saturday Night Live” sketch that has far overstayed its welcome. Starring Justin Long (“Dodgeball,” “Live Free or Die Hard,” those annoying Mac commercials) as Jobs, “iSteve” is a chore to endure as it fumbles from one scene to the next.

Forget the countless inaccuracies (which can be forgiven in the name of “parody”), “iSteve” has far more to be concerned about, like some sort of plot, a script with a single laugh to constitute its classification as a “comedy,” and a production budget that looks better than a ransom video.

It’s curious as to why FoD decided a computer god would be its best choice, as it seems the writers don’t know their ASCII from their dongle (mixing up “fonts” and “typefaces,” guys? C’mon!). Jorge Garcia (the rather large fella from “Lost”) costars as Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak, who seems to exist in the film so writers can throw out a bunch of fat jokes.

Wozniak himself may not be the most svelte gentleman, but hardy fat by today’s mobility-scooting-masses. That’s far from the worst “iSteve” has to offer. It takes the easiest potshots available: computer programmers? Guess what? They’re nerds! Isn’t that hysterical?! But then it veers into territory that suggests it was just written on the fly: Jobs creates Apple while tripping on acid; he’s apparently a robot at some point (though that’s never revisited), and Melinda Gates (wife-to-be of Windows founder Bill Gates) serves as some sort of love interest/muse for Jobs, ultimately engaging in an awkward virtual sex scene that is just staggeringly out of place and about as sexy as a virus.

George Lucas (played by some actor who makes no attempt to look or sound remotely like him) even makes an appearance in which he and Jobs apparently plan Pixar, or somthing like that, as the scene is so shoddily written, I really couldn’t tell. Ryan Perez, a former “Saturday Night Live” writer, served as writer and director here, and he will hopefully retreat very soon back to “SNL,” never to attempt feature-length entertainment again.

There is still hope, Jobs fans, as Aaron Sorkin (“The West Wing,” “The Social Network”) is busy at work on Sony’s big-budget adaptation of the Walter Isaacson biography of the icon. I’m fairly certain Sorkin is capable of creating something more coherent than this rotten Apple.

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