Moviegoers looking for a healthy dose of comedy, chaos and Canadiana won’t have to look much further than BlackBerry, a hilarious new movie that tells the story of how Waterloo’s own Research in Motion took over the cellphone market and just as swiftly crashed and burned.
From start to finish, BlackBerry takes you on a chaotic ride that will make you doubt the competence of tech bros and venture capitalists alike, who are regularly trusted with millions of dollars and stewarding the technology that runs the world.
But no matter how cobbled together the original BlackBerry was, this movie will still make you marvel at the sheer will of the Canadians that innovated and marketed their way to the top, and created the smartphone industry as we know it today. It’s a surprisingly entertaining story that will make you laugh more than you were expecting.
Jay Baruchel plays BlackBerry founder Mike Lazaridis as a quiet tech visionary that’s all hunched shoulders and anxious perfectionism. Alongside his goofy sidekick co-founder Doug Fregin, played by the film’s director Matt Johnson, the pair manage to slap together the first working phone and email machine — in between movie nights and video game tournaments.
Then, Jim Balsillie, played by Glenn Howerton of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia fame, steps in to whip the childish bunch into a multi-million dollar company — convinced he can yell his way to a functioning organization.
Baruchel, best known for his comedy, takes a new tack in this dramatic role, and it definitely suits him. In an interview with Global News, the actor revealed that the story of BlackBerry is near and dear to his heart as a Canadian who grew up in the 1990s.
“It’s a bit of a love letter to a time and place that we came of age,” Baruchel said, revealing that a lot of the ’90s paraphernalia that peppered the set came from the director’s own house.
This is Johnson’s biggest film yet. As an indie director from Toronto, he told Global News he was on a mission to get Canada more recognition.
“For us, as kind-of patriots, we thought, ‘Oh wouldn’t it be cool to really try to plant a flag on the invention of the smartphone for this country?’” Johnson said, “Make a film that’s broad enough and accessible enough that Americans and people around the world can see it and be like, ‘Oh wow, I can’t believe the Canadians did something.’”
Johnson added that American star Howerton didn’t know that BlackBerry was a Canadian brand before coming into the film. The It’s Always Sunny actor told Global News that Johnson made him take a “Canad proficiency test before casting him.
“Do you speak the language?” Howerton joked. “Do you know the structure of our government?” he added, as Baruchel and Johnson laughed.
The three men were boisterous and full of quips during their interview, touching on how an expletive-fuelled Baruchel was nervous no one would want to watch a movie set in late ’90s Waterloo, and how Howerton had the crew of BlackBerry walking on eggshells around him due to his pseudo-method-acting process.
(You can watch the interview in full, top.)
‘BlackBerry’ will be released in theatres across Canada on May 12.
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