(p. C9) In Matt Johnson’s “BlackBerry” — a wonky workplace comedy that slowly shades into tragedy — the emergence of the smartphone isn’t greeted with fizzing fireworks and popping champagne corks. Instead, Johnson and his co-writer, Matthew Miller (adapting Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff’s 2015 book “Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry”), have fashioned a tale of scrabbling toward success that tempers its humor with an oddly moving wistfulness.
. . .
. . ., we’re in Waterloo, Ontario, in 1996, where Mike Lazaridis (a perfect Jay Baruchel) and Doug Fregin (Johnson) — best friends and co-founders of a small tech company called Research in Motion (RIM) — are trying to sell a product they call PocketLink, a revolutionary combination of cellphone, email device and pager.
. . .
The corporate types don’t understand Mike and Doug’s invention, but a predatory salesman named Jim Balsillie (a fantastic Glenn Howerton), gets it. Recently fired and fired up, Jim sees the device’s potential, making a deal to acquire part of RIM in exchange for cash and expertise. Doug, a man-child invariably accessorized with a headband and a bewildered look, is doubtful; Mike, assisted by a shock of prematurely gray hair, is wiser. He knows that they’ll need an intermediary to succeed.
Reveling in a vibe — hopeful, testy, undisciplined — that’s an ideal match for its subject, “BlackBerry” finds much of its humor in Jim’s resolve to fashion productive employees from RIM’s ebulliently geeky staff, who look and act like middle schoolers and converse in a hybrid of tech-speak and movie quotes. It’s all Vogon poetry to Jim; but as Jared Raab’s restless camera careens around the chaotic work space, the excitement of disruption and the thrill of creation become tangible.
For the full movie review, see:
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the movie review has the date May 11, 2023, and has the title “‘BlackBerry’ Review: Big Dreams, Little Keyboards.”)
The book that is the basis of the movie under review in the passages quoted above is:
McNish, Jacquie, and Sean Silcoff. Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of Blackberry. New York: Flatiron Books, 2015.