HCA Gradebook: “The Little Mermaid”June 5, 2023
HCA Gradebook: “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”June 6, 2023
Plot: The true story of the meteoric rise & catastrophic demise of the world’s first smartphone, BlackBerry is a whirlwind ride through a ruthlessly competitive Silicon Valley at breakneck speeds.
Cast: Jay Baruchel, Glenn Howerton, and Matt Johnson.
Director: Matt Johnson
Release Date: May 12, 2023
Studio: IFC Films
Number of Graders: 21
Overall Grade: A-
Joel D. Amos says, “BlackBerry blew me away. As a proud initial purchaser of what seemed like a miracle communication device, writer-director-star Matt Johnson has revealed the behind the scenes that personify that old saying, ‘what goes up, must comes down.’ The thing is, both journeys make for thrilling, engrossing and fascinating filmmaking. Stars Jay Baruchel and Glenn Howerton are impeccably cast. By the close of the cinematic experience, I, for one, needed Baruchel to be working more! The Canadian thespian was exquisite. The BlackBerry device was a revolution. It would soon be eclipsed by other smart phones, specifically Apple’s iPhone. After that, everything was history. With Johnson’s film, one gets a ringside seat to the birth of a seismic technological marvel that we are still unsure of its long-term cultural influence.”
Ashley Saunders says, “BlackBerry is fascinating & 100% entertaining. It’s a witty, sharp, & creative story about the rise & fall of Blackberry and the dangers of big egos. Loved the camera work & overall look of the film. Howerton & Baruchel are excellent. More movies like this please.”
Jillian Chilingerian says, “BlackBerry is a refreshing, thought-provoking entry into the origin story film genre with its focus on the rise and fall of the first smartphone, the Blackberry.”
Rick Hong says, “Glenn Howerton and Jay Baruchel give brilliant performances as the founders of The Blackberry with a great execution by writer/director Matt Johnson.”
Tony Toscano says, “Simply put, one of the best films of the year with terrific performances by Jay Baruchel and Glenn Howington. I hope audiences will discover this one for its humor and social significance.”
Rosa Parra says, “BlackBerry is easily one of the most informative and detailed depictions about the company that led the smartphone takeover. This is one of the surprises of 2023 that had me glued to the screen all the way to the end. I wasn’t aware of any of this, and the period piece aesthetic was nice to see.”
Tessa Smith says, “BlackBerry proves that clever writing can entertain any subject to just about any audience member. Even those who are not into technology can easily be sucked into this story. The cast is fantastic, and breathes a life into these roles that makes them feel real.
The themes and messages about greed are very apparent throughout, but so are those about believing in yourself and working hard to accomplish what you want to do. The third act will have most people on the edge of their seats, waiting to see how it all unfolds — even though they already know.”
Dana Han-Klein says, “BlackBerry is a clever and intentional tale of everything that could have and did go awry with the world’s first smartphone. Full of fallible and selfish characters, it serves in healthy contrast to other often overly saccharine success stories that oft feel overly tampered with by brands.”
Ema Sasic says, “I wasn’t sure if BlackBerry would get my attention whatsoever, but it was a pretty gripping and ridiculous tale that hooked me from the start. From the awkward moments to aggressive blowouts, Jay Baruchel, Matt Johnson, and Glenn Howerton are so great going toe-to-toe against each other. Howerton really gets to shine every time he gets in someone’s face. The 1990s/2000s nostalgia is in full force here, and it’s so fun to revisit this period full of innovation as it’s told in a really fresh way. The engaging camerawork makes the movie so exciting, even when dealing with complex tech lingo and issues.”
Scott Menzel says, “Blackberry is a phenomenal film showcasing a razor-sharp script and some of the best performances I’ve seen this year. It perfectly encapsulates the rise and fall of the BlackBerry in such a funny, engaging, and thrilling way. The direction and editing are superb. Matthew Johnson has created this year’s Social Network on a shoestring budget. Definitely worth seeking this one out in theaters or on demand.
Aaron Neuwirth says, “In a year that’s already delivered Air and Tetris, here’s another tale of what lengths a company went to so they could stay on top, but it’s more willing to hit against the edge, even with the added humor that makes it all quite enjoyable.”
Nate Adams says, “In a year where we’ve already seen Tetris and Air exploit their respective brands, BlackBerry really doesn’t have anything to sell other than how quickly you can fade from public view, as evident by the 0% market share BlackBerry has today. Still, it has plenty to say about not compromising your values and staying on the right side of history while treating people with respect. The movie is also extremely loose, face-paced, and ratchets up the tension in the same vein as Glengarry Glen Ross, which, ironically enough, gets name-dropped in the movie. Johnson, who shares screenwriting credits with Matthew Miller, wisely doesn’t turn the movie into a pure nostalgia play, instead keeping the RIM brain trust and the countless hours of work at the forefront of the movie’s focus and helping to showcase an authentic look at the company that launched the cell phone revolution.
No offense to Nextel.”
Sara Clements says, “BlackBerry the second film this year, following Tetris, that succeeded in having me on the edge of my seat regarding a topic I don’t really care about: How rich companies got rich. But there is something thrilling about a story where a small idea basically changed communication as we know it today. What I found most fascinating to watch is how a person’s values and entire being can change simply because of the chokehold that is retaining wealth. Jay Baruchel captured that transformation perfectly, even to a sympathetic degree. And Glenn Howerton…that man can yell at me all he wants!”
Peggy Marie says, “BlackBerry is a fun entertaining picture, that may not be completely accurate, but for those who don’t know the details, it won’t matter as this dark comedy is thrust into the spotlight by the delicious performance of one Glenn Howerton. Don’t miss this one for the memories and send me your BBM!”
Matt Neglia says, “BlackBerry is a riveting rise & fall story set between the worlds of business & tech. Matt Johnson’s lively work covers a lot of ground even though it may not add up to much. What really sells this are the performances from Glenn Howerton and Jay Baruchuel. Howerton is a ferocious force of nature while this might be my favorite Jay Barachuel performance to date.”
Monica Gleberman says, “While some might feel like they are seeing a bit of deja vu with BlackBerry (due to other films like Tetris and Air) — there is a difference to this film. BlackBerry feels a little more authentic in its portrayal of two guys, Jay Baruchel and Glenn Howerton, who didn’t realize that their idea of taking advantage of existing towers would create the “crackberry” that became the must-have item of the 90s. BlackBerry (dubbed the phone before the iPhone) is a pop culture icon. The movie showcases how revolutionary it was to “type with your thumbs.” While this movie might not be for everyone, it was interesting to learn about the phone, the struggles, the wins, and the losses. While some scenes seem corny with absurd fights, the overall storyline is good and will keep you entertained. It’s a shame that they have become obsolete, with many of us being the cause. So although you might feel guilty, I think it’s still worth the watch. (Excuse any typos, this review was sent from an iPhone).”
Matthew Creith says, “Director Matt Johnson takes a quintessential biopic formula and makes his audience understand that good ideas can falter under the weight of men who can’t see the sky beyond the clouds. Glenn Howerton is a standout in a sea of talent in BlackBerry, primarily because his character might actually be the devil incarnate. A movie about a cell phone might seem somewhat trivial; however, under Johnson’s careful hand is a film bursting with stunning performances and a race-against-the-clock thriller.”
Abbie Bernstein says, “Although BlackBerry could have gone deeper with certain characters and themes, it succeeds in remaining intriguing throughout, and exuding a genuine sense of regret by its end.”
Ricky Valero says, “BlackBerry is the type of movie that highs are high, but lows are low. It falls into the same tropes that other biopics have, but one thing it does have going for it is Glenn Howerton’s career-best performance. His performance raises this from an okay movie to a good movie.”
Morgan Rojas says, “The reason why you should see this film: Glenn Howerton. His performance as a manic, loud-mouthed, egomaniac is entirely pitch-perfect and hilarious. His comedic fingerprints are all over this film in the best way possible; anyone acting alongside him is automatically elevated to his level. The energy that radiates from this film probably equates to a double shot of espresso.”
Clarence Moye says, “BlackBerry is a great start-up story. It’s also a compelling Icarus story about making dangerous choices to win at any cost. But where the film BlackBerry fails is in its total lack of character depth. Its obvious inspiration, The Social Network, gives you a full meal, delicate nuance in a story expertly told with a broad array of cinematic tools. Despite being quite entertaining, BlackBerry has none of that. In the film, we’re only given the who’s and the what’s. Art lives in the why’s.”