Justin Long

iSteve (2013, Ryan Perez)

iSteve is pretty darn stupid. The film doesn’t make any attempt not to be stupid–occasionally, one has to imagine they went for the more stupid option–but it’s not unwatchable. In a few ways, it’s a great example of why biopics don’t work. In director Perez’s version, Steve Jobs doesn’t really have a particularly interesting life. The low budget nature even hurts further dumb joke ideas–when Jobs (played by Justin Long) moves back home after getting fired at Apple, his parents don’t appear. They’re always offscreen. At least they could have done the “Charlie Brown” adult talking bit….

As far as the bits go, some are a lot better than others. The subplot with Melinda Gates (Michaela Watkins in iSteve’s best performance) romancing both Jobs and Bill Gates is really funny at times. The stuff with Jobs directing Justin Long in the TV commercials is good. Perez isn’t making a movie about Jobs as a celebrity or Apple as a successful company or even a spoof biopic (it’s too inaccurate). For a few minutes though, it plays like a vanity project for Long–when he casts someone spoofing him to be in the commercials. If iSteve had any actual focus, instead of some sporadic, awesome eighties or nineties jokes, it might have worked.

Long’s okay in the lead. He doesn’t really have a part.

The editing–there are six or seven editors–is fantastic. Great soundtrack too.

iSteve’s biggest joke is its existence. But it could be worse.



Directed by Ryan Perez; written by Perez, Danny Jelinek, Charles Ingram, Anne Rieman, Nick Corirossi, Allison Hord and Bradly Schulz; director of photography, Brian Lane; edited by Pat Bishop, Andy Maxwell, Perez, Chris Poole, Caleb Swyers and Jelinek; production designer, Tricia Robertson; produced by Hord; released by Funny or Die.

Starring Justin Long (Steve Jobs), Jorge Garcia (Steve Wozniak), James Urbaniak (Bill Gates), Michaela Watkins (Melinda Gates), John Ross Bowie (John Sculley), Steve Tom (Don Commodore), Nick Corirossi (Dell Dude), Anthony Gioe (Justin Long), Charles Ingram (George Lucas), Paul Rust (Billy Corgan), Juzo Yoshida (Otogawa), Jill Donnelly (Annie Leibovitz), Art Evans (Ol’ Mose), Joe Farrell (John Hodgman), Brian Huskey (Professor Palladino) and Kyle Mooney (Father).

Galaxy Quest (1999, Dean Parisot)

I can’t imagine not liking Galaxy Quest, but I suppose appreciating it does require on a certain level of previous knowledge. I can’t imagine how it plays to people who aren’t familiar with “Star Trek,” not to mention knowing William Shatner’s an egomaniac and “Trek” fans have big, weird conventions. Having some passing knowledge of cheesy late seventies science fiction shows wouldn’t hurt either (Sigourney Weaver’s character doesn’t have a “Star Trek” analog).

By creating the animosity between Tim Allen (as the Shatner analog) and the rest of the cast, the film sets up a really simple proposition—there’s no deep redemption here, he just has to stop being such a dip. And whisking them off to space to fight an intergalactic despot, it seems like a non-dip move.

Galaxy Quest is very assured. The details are important, not the characters. They’re funnier as caricatures and some deep human reality doesn’t have a place. By casting Allen opposite Weaver and Alan Rickman, the filmmakers create a wonderfully playful disconnect. It’s absurd and creates a great atmosphere.

All of the acting is excellent—Sam Rockwell and Tony Shalhoub are phenomenal. Both are perfectly casted for the roles—the writing is strongest at creating these funny people to watch. Only Daryl Mitchell “suffers,” but not really. He just doesn’t have enough to do.

Parisot does a good job. It’s all very professional, never letting himself get in the way of the actors.

The special effects are excellent.

It’s a great time.



Directed by Dean Parisot; screenplay by David Howard and Robert Gordon, based on a story by Howard; director of photography, Jerzy Zielinski; edited by Don Zimmerman; music by David Newman; production designer, Linda DeScenna; produced by Mark Johnson and Charles Newirth; released by DreamWorks Pictures.

Starring Tim Allen (Jason Nesmith), Sigourney Weaver (Gwen DeMarco), Alan Rickman (Alexander Dane), Tony Shalhoub (Fred Kwan), Sam Rockwell (Guy Fleegman), Daryl Mitchell (Tommy Webber), Enrico Colantoni (Mathesar), Robin Sachs (Sarris), Patrick Breen (Quellek), Missi Pyle (Laliari), Jed Rees (Teb) and Justin Long (Brandon).

Robin’s Big Date (2005, James Duffy)

All the Warner Bros. Batman films have, for the most part anyway, avoided the Adam West TV series.

So thank goodness for Robin’s Big Date, which doesn’t just embrace the show, but forces it into “reality.”

The big draw of Big Date is Sam Rockwell playing Batman. Sorry, The Bat-Man. He and Justin Long–as Robin–are in these homemade costumes (watching Rockwell tilt his head to see out the eyeholes is hilarious) and the whole thing feels absurd. Except it’s Rockwell and Long giving these earnest performances of these moronic characters.

Callie Thorne rounds out the principal cast. She does great–even managing to contain her laughter, though one can see it’s a struggle. Oddly, the film’s reality is so “real,” she’s in an abusive relationship and the superheroes can’t do anything to help.

Duffy’s direction is mediocre, but it’s all about the acting and Will Carlough’s writing.



Edited and directed by James Duffy; written by Will Carlough; director of photography, Trish Govoni; released by The Red-headed League.

Starring Sam Rockwell (The Bat-man), Justin Long (Robin), Callie Thorne (Kate), Josh Hamilton (Tony) and Will Carlough (Man).

Live Free or Die Hard (2007, Len Wiseman)

Remember the “Simpsons” episode where Bart watches ‘Die Hard’ jump out the window? Live Free or Die Hard–the title, incidentally, has nothing to do with the film’s content–is the first one where I expected McClane’s nickname to be ‘Die Hard.’ They come close in terms of self-reference….

Still, as a Die Hard movie, it’s about as good as a Die Hard movie featuring Bruce Willis versus a fighter jet is going to get. It’s really well cast, which carries a lot of the film. Much like the third one, it follows the short codas of the first two–which are fine for those (i.e. with Bonnie Bedelia–has everyone else forgotten the first two Die Hard movies are like a Thin Man on angel dust?)–but the movie doesn’t have a closed narrative. It has a fake ending, not going on long enough. The immediate action is resolved, then it just stops.

That good casting is necessary–and Len Wiseman’s enthusiastic direction is helpful–because the writing is terrible. Willis has some good lines and he and Justin Long have some good scenes, but it’s incredibly stupid. The Die Hard movies kept their predicaments small and manageable–even the third one kept it within reason–but Live Free is crazy big: it’s the end of the world as we know it (something left unresolved).

For half the movie, I felt like the script came from John Carpenter’s unmade Escape from Earth.

It isn’t just the dumb ideas, but a lot of the setups. McClane’s stalking his daughter in this one, which makes little sense (especially since the image of him alone, his heroism costing him everything–conjured by a discussion–is so much more striking). Luckily, there’s a lot of decently executed action. Die Hard movies always create an aura of reality, usually because of Willis’s performance and the production design–and he makes the unbelievable Live Free palatable.

As a director, Wiseman has no personality, but he incorporates CG well enough. As a Die Hard movie with CG, which means it’s fundamentally broken but it is what it is and it’s fine.

Cliff Curtis, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Timothy Olyphant are all fine. Curtis is sturdy, Winstead is fiesty and Olyphant is hissable (if a little foppish).

As for McClane versus the fighter jet… it’s the kind of ‘too much’ even Willis can’t ground. Combined with that flimsy ending… There’s also the issue of Wiseman’s blue filters, which I won’t expand on, since I want to end on a high note:

Live Free or Die Hard isn’t the best it could be, but it’s far from the worst. It’s fine.



Directed by Len Wiseman; written by Mark Bomback, based on a story by Bomback and David Marconi; director of photography, Simon Duggan; edited by Nicolas de Toth; music by Marco Beltrami; production designer, Patrick Tatopoulos; produced by Michael Fottrell; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Bruce Willis (John McClane), Timothy Olyphant (Thomas Gabriel), Justin Long (Matt Farrell), Cliff Curtis (Bowman), Maggie Q (Mai) and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Lucy McClane).

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