BlackBerry Parent Guide
This loose adaptation of the rise and fall of BlackBerry delivers a witty, sobering tale with plenty of profanity.
Parent Movie Review
Mike Lazaridis and Doug Fregin (Jay Baruchel and Matt Johnson) know an opportunity when they see it – a free wireless internet signal all over North America that isn’t being used. The two engineers believe that if they can combine a phone and email device to use that signal, their company, Research in Motion, will be unstoppable. But a good idea only works if you can bring it to market…
Jim Balsillie (Glenn Howerton) is an executive whose aggressive self-promotion has cost him his job. Determined to become a business titan, Balsillie negotiates a position as CEO with Research in Motion, mortgaging his house to keep the company afloat. Balsillie’s ruthlessness soon makes the newly designed BlackBerry a must-have gadget, but that success might cost him everything.
Ostensibly a satirical business biopic set in the 1990s and early 2000s, BlackBerry is really a timeless Greek tragedy, with Lazaridis as the tragic hero. Think back to high school English class and you’ll remember the tragic hero – an unusually gifted or talented person who carries a fatal flaw that eventually destroys them. Although Lazaridis (and Fregin) have the brilliance to design groundbreaking technology, Lazaridis’s ambition eventually overtakes his integrity, leading him to betray his core principles. As for Balsillie, his brutal arrogance can only end in disaster. If you’re looking for a film to pound home the need for humility, flexibility, civility, and basic decency, BlackBerry is a good place to start.
Unfortunately for family audiences, this film is awash in profanity, with over five dozen sexual expletives alone – many of them yelled loudly by angry or abusive men. Other negative content is minimal, but the volume of cussing in this film makes a Restricted rating inevitable.
As far as the production quality goes, the movie runs a bit too long, but the writing is generally crisp, with plenty of wry humor and some laugh out loud lunacy. The tech nerds are treated with affection and the ruthless businessmen with bemused disbelief. Considering that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) is one of the production companies, this film is a giant leap ahead from its normally mediocre entertainment products. The movie’s low budget provenance is only noticeable in the character’s wigs, which are fine to begin with but become less convincing as the characters age. It’s a minor quibble but it does get distracting in the final acts.
This film’s release has hit a sweet spot, as the ubiquity of technology in our lives becomes a more hotly debated issue. BlackBerry reminds us that these little pocket devices were known as “crackberries”, precursors to their even more addictive smart phone successors. The movie challenges us to think about the role we want technology to play in our lives. More than that, it pushes us to decide how we define success: do we base it on money, achievement, friendship, fame, or fulfilled dreams? Do those priorities change over time? This film has a lot to say – it’s too bad so much of it involves cussing.
Directed by Matt Johnson. Starring Jay Baruchel, Glenn Howerton, Matt Johnson. Running time: 122 minutes. Theatrical release May 12, 2023. Updated May 10, 2023
Watch the trailer for BlackBerry
Rating & Content Info
Why is BlackBerry rated R? BlackBerry is rated R by the MPAA for language throughout
Violence: There are brief images of violence in opening title sequence. A man frequently yells at colleagues and speaks abusively. An angry man smashes a pay phone.
Sexual Content: A man jokes about “playing with yourself”. There is mention of “penises” in a bullying business context.
Profanity: The script contains over five dozen sexual expletives, at least a dozen terms of deity, five scatological curses, and a smattering of minor profanities. A crude anatomical term is also heard.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A clip at the end of the film shows the real Jim Balsillie drinking beer while fishing.
Page last updated May 10, 2023
BlackBerry Parents' Guide
What values or priorities does Mike Lazaridis sacrifice as the BlackBerry succeeds? What emotions or situations lead him to abandon those values? What would you do in his situation?
For more information about the real history of the BlackBerry, you can read these links:
The Verge: Research, no motion: How the BlackBerry CEOs lost an empire
The Canadian Encyclopedia: BlackBerry Limited
CTV News: Jim Balsillie sets the record straight on “BlackBerry” movie
Loved this movie? Try these books…
This film is loosely inspired by Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of Blackberry by Sean Silcoff and Jacquie McNish.
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Several high-stakes business films have come out over the past few years. Tetris tells the Cold War story of how the addictive video game was purchased from its Russian developer amidst intrigue and skulduggery. In Air, Nike pulls out all the stops to persuade Michael Jordan to endorse their products, going so far as to design a shoe specifically for the basketball star. Mark Zuckerberg’s early development of Facebook is the topic of The Social Network. Business rivalries pick up speed in Ford v. Ferrari, the story of Ford’s determination to win the fabled Le Mans race.
If you’re looking for family-friendly movies about the flip side of technology, you can try Free Guy, Ron’s Gone Wrong, or The Mitchells vs the Machines.