• Review Date: March 4, 2004
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2001
  • Running Time: 107 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Documentary best for teens interested in business.
  • Review Date: March 4, 2004
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2001
  • Running Time: 107 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive role models

Exceptionally diverse group shows dedication and loyalty.


Tense and emotional scenes




Very strong language

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drinking and smoking

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie includes very strong language and tense and emotional moments. One of the great strengths of the story is the way in which a group of people from very diverse backgrounds and cultures works together with great loyalty and commitment.

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What's the story?

Jehane Noujaim's documentary follows the ups and downs of Kaliel Isaza Tuzman's Internet start-up venture. The filmmakers were sure the company would be a sensational success. Instead, STARTUP.COM chronicles a spectacular business failure. Tuzman goes into business with his high school best friend, Tom Herman. Tuzman will be the CEO and Herman will be in charge of technology at From 1999 to 2001, govWorks went from eight employees to more than 200, and then down to none. They raised $60 million and ended in bankruptcy. Events are filmed not just in the office, but in the bedroom, the gym, the car, in a pizza parlor, a company retreat, etc. We see sides of their personal lives and arguments over priorities and presentations. A competitor visits the office and then there is a mysterious burglary that appears to be espionage. Finally, we see the almost unbearably painful moment when the friendship is shattered by the business, as Herman leaves and then tries to return only to be formally terminated. At the end, though, Herman tells Tuzman that "I had a great time over the last year and I love you." And we see from the end credits that they are still in business together – using their expertise to advise distressed dot.coms.

Is it any good?


In finding one story to tell among 400 chaotic hours of footage, there were probably a million options. The story the filmmakers chose to tell is the story of the Herman/Tuzman relationship and the way that the very qualities that made the two men good complements for each other ultimately led to catastrophe. Maybe it is because their access to the principals of the firm was extensive but they were not allowed to film the backers or board, so the story they told was determined by the pictures they had to show it. Maybe it is because the filmmakers were women, so they saw the story with a Deborah Tannen-esque yang to Tuzman's testosterone-driven yin.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how we make choices when our work and professional lives conflict. At one point in this movie, Tuzman, under intense deadline pressure, calls for an all-weekend meeting. Herman refuses, saying that he promised to be with his daughter. Families should talk about what happens next, and what they would do in that situation.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 11, 2001
DVD release date:May 11, 2002
Cast:Kaleil Isaza Tuzman, Kenneth Austin, Tom Herman
Directors:Chris Hegedus, Jehane Noujaim
Studio:Artisan Entertainment
Run time:107 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong language

This review of Startup was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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