Upon seeing Jobs, the Ashton Kutcher led biopic about late visionary and Apple CEO Steve Jobs, I was interested to see how a spoof would be handled in the future given how much material Joshua Michael Stern’s film unintentionally supplies.
However, the jokers at Funny or Die have jumped the gun and created the satire before Jobs was made – earning it the title of “the first Steve Jobs movie”.
Don’t worry though. Writer/director Ryan Perez isn’t interested in poking fun at the trials and tribulations Steve Jobs experienced in his lifetime. He would much rather represent him as a rambling turtleneck-clad inquiring mind who goofily laughs with giga-buddy Bill Gates and vies for his girl when he isn’t dropping acid with Billy Corgan from Smashing Pumpkins fame.
iSteve doesn’t mean-spiritedly besmirch Jobs’ name or his impact on technology, but they do rollick around with his image – while, oddly enough, sticking with his dedicated ingenuity. However, movie goers streaming the free film will find their sides hurting for the wrong reasons. Our sides hurt not from the jokes, but from how often Perez and company dig their elbows into us with each set-up and punchline. iSteve isn’t as smart or clever as it thinks it is.
The script’s been written in a way where each joke precedes with Perez saying,”wouldn’t it be funny if…” followed by a relentless nudge asking us if we “got it”. The cameos of famous people played by lesser listed actors are definitely guilty of this. With the Corgan scene, Paul Rust – and a wrinkly bald cap – portray him as annoyingly as possible. He drops references from Apple products to songs played by The Smashing Pumpkins, all while laying on a free spirit spacey frame of mind.
A lot of these random exchanges – including the Corgan scene – go on for way too long in order to nail the irrelevancy of the situation. Jobs pitches ideas to George Lucas about an animation company inspired by a desk lamp (hint, hint) and the conversation leads to a ceaseless series of flat jokes discussing future prequels and the process of finding inner midi-chlorians.
Then, there’s Nick Corirossi who pops up as the “dude, you’re getting a Dell” guy and spouts off non-stop crudities while hammering in his half baked presence. And, we can’t forget about Joe Hartzler who portrays Robert Palmer. Movie goers are supposed to laugh at the fact that Hartzler is obviously lip synching over replica songs. Do you see a pattern? Or rather, do you hear the hollow “THUD” these punchlines are making?
In my Jobs review, I referenced Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story – which I still believe is one of the strongest and smartest spoofs to come out in recent years. Walk Hard has those toss-off celebrity cameos, but they never linger since the comedy would rather mock the tropes that are overplayed in biopic Oscar bait. iSteve, however, thinks it’s being witty by milking all it can out of sheer randomness and overstaying its welcome so it can squeeze every last drop.
iSteve isn’t a laugh-out-loud comedy but, I must admit, I did snicker here and there at some visual gags and reaction shots. Most notably the reveal of Jobs’ Apple 1 computer which resembles a D+ grade school shop project as well as Jorge Garcia’s awkward gazes as partner-in-crime Steve Wozniak. For unknown reasons, characters don’t want anything to do with Wozniak leading to Garcia biting his lip and staring at the ground a lot. Garcia’s awkwardness is beaten into the ground with the other cameo gags, but at least his presence was able to create chuckles.
I even enjoyed Justin Long’s portrayal as Steve Jobs. It doesn’t hold a candle to Kutcher’s leading role, but Long plays Jobs with such a straight face that you forget he’s in a comedy. It’s a performance that stands completely on its own. But, because this is a silly broad comedy, Long ends up coming across as too dry for Ryan Perez’s flick. The spoken exchanges between Jobs and Bill Gates (played by James Urbaniak) or Gates’ wife Melinda (played by Michaela Watkins) become a comedy of manners, but the actors strive to find any semblance of humour in the dilly-dallying small talk.
The film’s funniest moment is when Steve Jobs becomes inspired after watching Jeepers Creepers and hires Justin Long to be Macintosh’s spokesperson. However, out of all the cameo gags, Perez refuses to milk this one. iSteve passes up on an opportunity to allow Justin Long to play himself alongside Long’s Jobs and casts no-namer Anthony Gioe (an actor who, by the way, looks nothing like Long) who does zilch with this comedic role.
There are very few laughs but, for the most part, watching iSteve is like accidentally clicking on a rotten link and watching hundreds of pop-up ads flood your monitor. Eventually, you start speaking back and telling your browser to “stop”. As Perez’s obnoxious comedy hurled more and more unfunny randomness my way, I couldn’t help but have the same knee jerk reaction. How do you ctrl, alt, delete on a Mac again?