Tag Archive: Jeff Daniels


Steve Jobs – Movie Review

Chances are that you’ve used a product from Steve Jobs. The face of Apple helped unveil a slew of high-tech products in his lifetime and many of his ideas were extremely influential in the world of technology. Since his death in 2011, a number of films have been released chronicling his life, but Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs will surely be viewed as the de facto Jobs biopic. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin has cooked up one of the best screenplays in years, managing to showcase Jobs at his best and worst. Playing the often maligned CEO, Michael Fassbender hits a homerun, as do his supporting cast which includes Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen and Jeff Daniels. From the visuals, to the kinetic energy, to the unique structure, Steve Jobs scores in every department and manages to become the best film about technology since The Social Network.

What’s most unique about this take on Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) is that it only looks at three distinct moments in his life. While there are a few flashbacks scattered throughout the film, the majority of its runtime is spent following Jobs around before three product launches: the Macintosh in 1984, NeXT in 1988 and the iMac in 1998. While most biopics tend to follow someone’s life from beginning to end, this unique structure allows us to spend extended amounts of time with Jobs before a major moment in his life. These sequences occur almost in real time and we get to watch him interact with some of the most important people throughout his life and career. The majority of his time is spent with Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet) a marketing executive and seemingly his closest employee and friend. Jobs also receives visits from his friend and computer programmer Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen) and CEO of Apple John Sculley (Jeff Daniels). But perhaps his most important relationship is with Lisa, a young girl who he refuses to admit is his daughter.

Sorkin doesn’t hold back and try to portray Jobs as a nice guy. He could be a real jerk and was often extremely difficult to work with. This shows in the film, especially when it comes to his relationship with programmer Andy Hertzfeld (Michael Stuhlbarg) who Jobs seems to bully around. Because the film doesn’t sugarcoat how awful of a person Jobs could sometimes be, it feels like we’re getting real, raw glimpses into the life of a genius. His dedication to perfection in his products alienated those around him, but it allowed him to revolutionize the landscape of computers and technology. These backstage glimpses feel like we’re seeing a part of Jobs that was hidden from the public’s eye and it’s absolutely exhilarating to watch.

Adding to the exhilaration is director Danny Boyle, who brings his usual energy and flair to pump up the film. The film went through an occasionally rocky production, with David Fincher originally attached to direct. As much as I love Fincher, it’s tough to imagine anyone being a better match for this material than Boyle. His style seems perfectly suited for a film that’s all about unveiling products and he makes sure that there’s never a dull moment in the film. One of the most interesting directorial choices that Boyle made was the decision to shoot each time period on a different format (16mm for 1984, 35mm for 1988 and digital for 1998). This feels like the kind of perfectionist decision that Jobs would have approved of and it only further helps to emphasize the development of Jobs and Apple throughout the film.

While it’s Boyle that breathes life and energy into the film, it’s Sorkin and Fassbender who ultimately bring the film’s title character to life. Admittedly, Fassbender doesn’t really look like Jobs, but the sharp writing and Fassbender’s excellent performance will allow people to suspend any disbelief they might have. Sorkin’s writing is so fast-paced that you’ll be struggling to keep up with every line and I mean that in the best possible way. Every word that comes out of Fassbender’s mouth genuinely feels like something the tech giant would say and Fassbender nails the delivery every time. He’s given a lot of great performances in the past few years, but this is undoubtedly one of his best. Not to be outdone, the supporting cast is excellent as well. Winslet, Rogen Daniels and Stuhlbarg all have incredible scenes with Fassbender and they’re able to reveal incredible layers of depth and emotion within their characters.

There’s hardly a single moment in Steve Jobs that isn’t entirely engrossing. Along with the praise that I’ve already heaped upon the film, the music from Daniel Pemberton and the cinematography from Alwin H. Küchler are awesome as well. Steve Jobs is more a film about people than technology, but it just so happens to excel in every technological department. Comparisons are sure to be made to 2010’s The Social Network and while it’s unfair to say if one film is better or worse than the other, they’re sure to make great companion pieces. Both films look at two different billionaires and contrast their perfect products with their imperfect lives. If you’ve ever used an Apple product, you owe it to yourself to see this film and take a peek at the man behind the curtain.

Steve Jobs receives 4/4

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The original Dumb and Dumber is a comedy classic. It’s not intelligent, it doesn’t have a great story, but it’s just plain funny. What made the film work is that the gags all hit the bullseye and the hysterical performances from Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels help elevate the material to comedic heaven. Now, after 20 years of anticipation, the inevitable sequel has finally arrived. Cleverly titled Dumb and Dumber To, the film gives its audience the chance to spend a couple more hours with these two characters that have become so beloved over the years. It’s great to watch Carey and Daniels do their thing and there are a fair number of hearty belly laughs to be had. But obviously this isn’t going to be able to live up to its predecessor; it’s not as clever, certainly not as funny and it feels overly reliant on callbacks from the original. Still, there’s something endearing about seeing these two characters again. For fans of the original, this sequel will feel like a nice reunion with two incredibly moronic friends.

After being rejected by Mary Swanson in the original film, Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) checked himself into a mental health facility, where he stayed for 20 years in a seemingly catatonic state. His best friend, Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels), would visit him every week. But one week, Harry announces that he needs a kidney transplant and that he won’t be able to come back for a while. This prompts Lloyd to reveal that he’s been faking his illness the entire time and the two of them set out in search of a kidney. After visiting Harry’s parents, they discover a long lost letter that reveals that Harry has a daughter (Rachel Melvin). In an effort to meet her for the first time and receive a kidney, the duo set off on a cross country trip to El Paso, Texas.

Like its predecessor, the best thing about this sequel is the performance from Carrey and Daniels. These two gave some incredibly off the wall performances 20 years ago and they comfortably slip back into these characters like they never left them. Since the original, both Carrey and Daniels have found great success in more dramatic fare, so seeing them attempt to play such imbeciles again is pretty amusing. It seems like they’re both happy to have been given the opportunity to revisit these two roles and the overall film benefits from their good-natured fun. And while their performances are responsible for the majority of the laughs, there are actually a handful of great gags on display. Jokes involving a trip on a bicycle, a confusion of addresses and a reunion with a long lost vehicle all provide hearty belly laughs that continue to provide chuckles, even after the scene has ended.

But, sadly, these few great gags are outweighed by an overreliance on crude and gross-out humor. There are so many jokes in the film that resort to filthiness for laughs and most of these moments simply aren’t funny. Believe it or not, the original film rarely resorted to this type of lowbrow humor. Sure, there were a few fart and pee jokes and even an infamous bathroom scene, but directors Bobby and Peter Farrelly never relied on their ability to be disgusting for laughs. It’s the performances that make the scenarios funny, but in To, they rely on potty-humor like a crutch. Even the great performances from Carrey and Daniels can’t elevate some of these truly lame jokes. There’s also an overreliance on repeated jokes from the original. Some callbacks would be fine, but there are so many in this film that it starts to feel like the Farrelly Brothers are running out of ideas. Clearly their writing hasn’t gotten any better and neither has their directing, with this film looking very cheaply made and worse than the original.

With broad humor and a plot that’s strikingly similar to its predecessor (in a good way), Dumb and Dumber To feels like it was plucked straight from the 90s. I enjoyed going on another journey with these characters, although the destination that they reach is pretty lame in comparison to the city of Aspen from the original. Despite some solid laughs, this sequel is not as funny as most will have wanted it to be, with nearly the entire third act failing to deliver consistent chuckles. But still, there’s something quite endearing about getting to see these two characters participate in another adventure. After the credits of the film, there’s a gag that suggests a future Dumb and Dumber installment could be a possibility. After seeing this, a lady in my theater scoffed and proclaimed that she hopes that will never happen. Even though I didn’t love Dumb and Dumber To, I would love to see this comedy prove her wrong.

Dumb and Dumber To receives 2/4