If you missed the theatrical release, tonight is the television debut of Blackberry. This is the rags to riches story about the people behind Canada’s once essential smartphone. Catch it on CBC and CBC Gem.

The story of Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie is about two men who created the perfect smartphone and then saw the whole enterprise get crushed by bad deals, petty grievances and Apple’s zillions in promoting the iPhone. Adapted from the book Losing the Signal by Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff. Jay Baruchel stars as Mike Lazaridis, Glenn Howerton as Jim Balsillie.

This CBC broadcast is an updated version of Blackberry, which has been extended into a three-part series. It includes never-before-seen footage. Beyond the premiere, episodes will continue on CBC (Thursdays Nov. 16 and 23) and CBC Gem.

I know a few button pushers who have never been right since their Blackberry’s finally lost their signals and had to be phased out. By casting two performers with plenty of comedy cred, this film does take a lighthearted approach at times.

Some viewers might quibble with a few budgetary shortcuts. When I was speaking with Fred Patterson earlier this week in my monthly visit with Humble & Fred Radio, he cursed it with the “looks too Canadian” phrase that cuts to the heart of every domestic filmmaker. It is true that the producers did not get the hair right, on both Barushel and especially on Howerton, whose bald dome looks like it was borrowed from the Saturday Night Live props department.

CORRECTION: Howerton, as the CBC publicity department gently explained when this article was first posted, actually shaved his head throughout this production. So his head does not look borrowed from SNL! My head, on the other hand, does not seem fully attached. Brioux.tv regrets the error.


Misleading nitpicking aside, Blackberry is the Arvo Arrow of this century, the story of a time when Canada, for a brief and shining moment, had the coolest thing.

Directed by Matt Johnson (Nirvanna the Band the Show), co-written by Matt Johnson and Matthew Miller with Johnson also appearing as Lazaridis friend and business partner Doug.

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