BlackBerry Movie Review: A Reinvigorating Comedy Punching at Corporate Greed

BlackBerry is Directed by Matt Johnson and Stars Jay Baruchel and Glenn Howerton

Zipping through the years of the rise and fall of the first texting cellphone, the aptly-titled BlackBerry serves as a fantastic tale of corporate greed and those incapable of dealing with the success and fame that comes with building new technology. Incredible acting and direction contributes to one of 2023’s best movies.

BlackBerry movie review cinephile corner Glenn Howerton Jay Baruchel

Whenever I get the age old question of “What’s your favorite movie ever?” I generally try to preface my answer by saying it’s hard to quantify hundreds of screenings and Blu-ray playbacks into a single film – before ultimately stating that it’s probably The Social Network. Sure, maybe that choice says a bit about the cynicism hiding inside myself given that it’s about teens unable to be self-deprecating while suing each other for rights over a multimillion dollar idea, but it’s that combination of self-loathing personal incapabilities and witty dialogue that makes it such a rewatchable film.

Now I can state that I’ve never seen a movie fully accomplish what The Social Network was able to, but I think we’ve come as close as ever with BlackBerry – the movie about the meteoric rise and sensational fall of the BlackBerry phone, and those incompetent souls who managed to gain just a small sliver of power off of it.

Not much was known about the production of BlackBerry until it was put on the big screen in front of viewers at film festivals. This was mostly due to its lower register cast and crew who hadn’t amount to many widely released films yet. But due to the quality of BlackBerry, and its ripping and roaring script that had me howling for moments on end, the movie has become a sort of sensation, not unlike the early 2000s phone that the plot is based on.

The story centers around the two co-CEOs of Research in Motion (RIM), a company that specializes in early tech hardware before diving headfirst into a risky gamble that sending e-mails is possible (and addictive) if proven functionable on a cellphone. The movie operates early on a Revenge of the Nerds-style arch as director Matt Johnson plays third fiddle as the snappy programmer Doug – who offers much of the film’s comedic artillery, which almost unilaterally lands (at least for me).

The two CEOs are Mike Lazaridis (Jay Baruchel, a reserved role for the actor occasionally paired with Seth Rogen or a dragon named Toothless) and Jim Balsillie (Glenn Howerton, doing whatever the opposite of reserved is). Mike is in charge of production and design. It’s ultimately his inventiveness and calculus that helps get the BlackBerry phone to prototype. Jim handles the marketing, and boy does he ever. The raging and rampaging Glenn Howerton goes to great lengths to portray Jim as a monster, but a monster that’s able to sell a hell of a lot of phones.

The movie operates under a style of crossmatching The Social Network with The Office and Succession, it’s brutal, confronting, and slapstick hilarious around every corner. It never loses steam as it jumps from the board meetings that launch BlackBerry cellphones into homes, to the anxiety caused by competitors like Apple using their designs to create something that pushes boundaries even further. There have been plenty of films in the past about the idea of building something that changes how society operates, but few of them look at what happens when they’re pushed to the brink of being obsolete.

Reviews for Films like BlackBerry (2023)

Sure, at times the film feels like the skeleton of a movie like The Social Network, but BlackBerry never fully devolves into self-parody. This mostly leans on the shoulders of Jay Baruchel, who has to combat Glenn Howerton’s hurricane-like style of performance with one that is much more reserved and calculated. Baruchel’s Mike is the brains of the operation, he just can’t convey it in a pitch meeting the way that Jim does – running into each room like a bull in a China shop.

BlackBerry also has a cold and understated filmmaking style that helps in conjunction with the performance quite a bit. It’s never overbearing or trying to cut into what works within the frame, it does such a great job of peering into rooms without announcing itself. Again, it reminded me a bit of The Office in this manner for how quiet and observant it is.

Simply put, BlackBerry is one of the best films of 2023 as of now. It’s prescient with how simpleton management can create tumultuous work environments, and how those that build new pieces of technology and infrastructure for our world aren’t always people worthy enough of being tasked with the fame and money that comes with it. An excellent viewing experience hot off the end of Succession, which feels like the right double billing for a movie like this.

Best New Movie

Genre: Comedy, Drama, History

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BlackBerry Movie Cast and Credits

BlackBerry movie review and poster with cast and crew.


Jay Baruchel as Mike Lazaridis

Glenn Howerton as Jim Balsillie

Matt Johnson as Doug Fregin


Director: Matt Johnson

Writers: Matt Johnson, Matthew Miller, Jacquie McNish (Original Writer)

Cinematography: Jared Raab

Editor: Curt Lobb

Composer: Jay McCarrol

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