A recommendation: the BlackBerry movie
"Well, it's definitely the world's largest pager." "It's actually the world's smallest email terminal." There is a trend in Hollywood nowadays to make movies about businesses - both successes and failures, often telling the "rise and fall" stories of once-famous companies. One of the best of these films so far is BlackBerry, the Canadian film about the (in)famous Canadian tech company and their beloved smartphone. It was actually the very first smartphone, launched at a time when no one even knew what would one day be possible or why anyone would even want to send emails from their phone. But everything changed when a few nerds from Canada invented the BlackBerry phone and made a deal with AT&T to start selling the high end phone on their network. The rest is history, as they say! Well, now that history has been told in this raggedy, funky, Canadian comedy made by filmmaker Matt Johnson. The film premiered at the Berlin Film Festival earlier in the year and opened in theaters in the summer - it's now available to watch at home. It's another Best of 2023 recommendation from FirstShowing (Opens in a new window), entertaining in unexpected ways, even if you aren't a fan of BlackBerry phones (or smartphones at all, you never know).
Directed by Matt Johnson, BlackBerry stars Jay Baruchel as RIM co-founder Mike Lazaridis, and Matt Johnson as the other co-founder Doug Fregin. This version of the film is a fictionalized take on the BlackBerry history. The two had created a tech company called RIM (Research In Motion) in the 1990s, based in Waterloo, Ontario (near Toronto, Canada), originally making pagers. Just as they were about to go under trying to sell modems, they made a deal to bring on Jim Balsillie as co-CEO, played by Glenn Howerton in the film. A ruthless businessman, he takes the company to new heights in the early 2000s right before Steve Jobs launches the iPhone. As usual with these kind of stories, it's a tale of greed and intense innovation and savage business tactics. The film plays up these aspects, making it a larger-than-life comedy with some remarkable performances from the cast. It is yet another tale of success and failure, but it's also a tale of geeks vs business bros, or nerds vs suits. And that's part of what makes it such an endearing and entertaining film. The radical, grainy cinematography also adds character to its ragtag vibe. Worth a rental anytime you feel in the mood for something smart yet still fun to watch.
Matt Johnson's BlackBerry is available to watch at home. Visit the official site (Opens in a new window).