It’s hard to say why Funny or Die, a site best known for its short comedic videos, decided to make a full-length Steve Jobs biopic. But iSteve – the free, 79-minute humorous retelling of the Apple co-founder’s life – is surprisingly amusing, provided you are both a fan of Apple and of stupid comedy, and presuming you also don’t mind a little profanity sprinkled in for good measure.iSteve stars Justin Long – the actor who wasn’t John Hodgman in the Get a Mac ads – in the title role. Lost’s Jorge Garcia fills Woz’s dancing shoes (no actual dancing included), and James Urbaniak takes on the role of Jobs’ friend and nemesis, Bill Gates.The film tells the story of Jobs and Woz teaming up to build the original Apple computer, of Apple the company and of the Mac, the iPod, the iPhone and, ever so briefly, the iPad.Well, it sort of tells that story.The film – knowingly – gets many, many facts wrong. But it’s sort of like Dave Barry Slept Here or Five-Minute Shakespeare or George Lucas in Love: the better you know the original story, the more entertaining the parody version can be.
As Funny or Die tells it, Jobs and Woz’s early friendship was threatened by Bill Gates, with whom Jobs finds a certain kinship. But the two entrepreneurs themselves end up at odds, both in business and in their personal lives: Melinda Gates, here played by actress Michaela Watkins, has relationships with both Gates and Jobs.
There’s no mention of his subsequent computer company, NeXT, which was eventually acquired by Apple and facilitated Jobs’ return, but there is time devoted to Jobs’ role in developing Pixar, including a lengthy conversation with George Lucas. Lucas, for his part, teaches Jobs the word ‘prequel’, as well as explaining the aforementioned concept of ‘midi-chlorians’, causing millions of fans of Star Wars and Apple to cry out in pain.When Jobs finally does claw his way back into Apple, he tells his assistant: “Get me a coffee, black. And a turtleneck, black.”Long’s Jobs isn’t a straight-up impression by any means.His take on the character is interesting in part because of the story’s ridiculousness, but also because Long adds a surprising layer of vulnerability to the character. Long’s Jobs isn’t simply a genius and he isn’t just a jerk: he’s a guy longing for love, and acceptance, and Bill Gates’ wife.
Throughout, you may catch a number of choice Jobsean quotes, often from other characters in Jobs’ vicinity, and often skewed in some way. But attentive Apple fans will pick up on references to many of Apple’s ad campaigns, including a ‘cameo’ of Long himself.The movie doesn’t dive into Jobs’ illness, and does take time to include a virtual reality-based love scene, just so you know where its priorities lie. Fans of Apple’s history and, say, the Will Ferrell oeuvre will likely not be disappointed by iSteve. And based on the clips we’ve seen from Ashton Kutcher’s forthcoming Jobs, iSteve is at least one of the top two funniest Jobs-related films of the year – only the Funny or Die effort is intentionally so.