If the title wasn't a dead giveaway, this is a movie about the geek business, or at least the personality of the geek business. Specifically, it's about the rise and fall of Apple (yes, Apple was on top for a while and Microsoft was the underdog) and the punches that the little guy (Microsoft, I swear) pulled trying to beat the big guys (IBM and Apple).
Front and center are Bill Gates (Anthony Michael Hall overplaying Machiavelli) and Steve Jobs (Noah Wyle overplaying the hypocritical hippie). In the wings with one liners and side explanations are the designer of the Mac, Steve Wozniak (Joey Slotnick), and the two most famous right hand men of Microsoft, Paul Allen (Josh Hopkins) and Steve Ballmer (John Di Maggio).
The film dutifully details the skyrocketing of Apple from a manufacturer of the first cookie cutter color PCs (the Apple II that didn't leave your high school until well after you did) to one of the biggest personal computer companies to the giant taken down by the people that helped build it up (don't you know, Microsoft helped make the original Macintosh operating system).
The movie also showcases the big sneaky moves of the business. It shows how Apple grabbed the idea of the GUI from Xerox, how Microsoft got the first DOS from someone else, and how Microsoft started making its own interfaces. Pirates of Silicon Valley also paints an anecdotal picture of the insanity of Jobs and Gates -- Jobs incites cross product team food fights, Gates drives a bulldozer on the grounds of the Redmond campus.
The primary problem with Pirates of Silicon Valley is that it paints every person and event in it like Central Park caricatures. Wyle tries too hard at being the brilliant asshole. Anthony Michael Hall plays Bill Gates like the unpopular kid trying to take over the clubhouse. It also plays lip gloss to a lot of the real reasons for the popularity of Windows (hardware interoperability, business computing needs, supply chain distribution, and developer friendliness).
By no stretch is Pirates of Silicon Valley robbing you of your time. If you've read this far through the review, chances are you'll find the flick interesting. If you ever wanted to know how the juggernaut grew, then go ahead and Netflix it.
Ay, dios mio!
Run time: 95 mins
In Theaters: Sunday 20th June 1999
Distributed by: Warner Home Video
Production compaines: Turner Network Television, Haft Entertainment, St. Nick Productions
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Fresh: 8 Rotten: 1
IMDB: 7.2 / 10
Director: Martyn Burke
Producer: Leanne Moore
Screenwriter: Martyn Burke
Starring: Noah Wyle as Steve Jobs, Joey Slotnick as Steve Wozniak, J. G. Hertzler as Ridley Scott, Anthony Michael Hall as Bill Gates, Wayne Pére as Captain Crunch, Sheila Shaw as Mrs. Wozniak, Gema Zamprogna as Arlene, John Di Maggio as Steve Ballmer, Josh Hopkins as Paul Allen, Gailard Sartain as Ed Roberts, Allan Kolman as Therapeut, Marcus Giamatti as Dan Kottke, Melissa McBride as Elizabeth Holmes, Jeffrey Nordling as Mike Markkula, Marc Worden as Chris Larson
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