Director: Joshua Michael Stern
Starring: Ashton Kutcher, Dermot Mulroney, Josh Gad, Lukas Haas, Matthew Modine, J.K. Simmons
This biopic about the college dropout turned technological legacy seemed very promising. I did have my doubts about it upon first hearing about it. I questioned whether Ashton Kutcher would be able to pull off a serious role. I questioned whether or not they would go about telling us about “the great” Steve Jobs with the right angle. I thought to myself that this movie had the potential to be as big as a hit as The Social Network was. After leaving the theater from this one, though, my suspicions were confirmed. Many things kept Jobs from being great or even coming close to what the The Social Network was able to accomplish in terms of conveying emotional impact in the story of a misunderstood genius who went above and beyond the limits of their time.
Plot: Steve Jobs (Kutcher) was a visionary who forever changed the computer industry, the music industry, the motion picture industry, and the cellphone industry. His journey to the top, however, was not a flawless one. Jobs emphasizes on the relationships that Steve used in order to build Apple as one of the biggest corporations around today and how at times, he became his own worst enemy.
After watching Jobs, I went home and watched a brief, hour-long documentary on Steve Jobs on Netflix that I found much more enjoyable than the strenuous, two-hour long film that I had just seen in the theater. What makes any biopic or fictional retelling of a true story different than just a plain ole’ documentary is the emotional response that the former must trigger from the viewer. There isn’t any real emotion in a documentary whose objective is to just recount fact after fact. Jobs is very much like a documentary in that it basically just shows the timeline of Jobs’ career and nothing more. It touches on the important stuff, and we get a sense of who this man was, but we are left asking “So what?”. There weren’t any feelings or emotions pulled from me while watching Jobs, no matter how hard the movie tried.
Ashton Kutcher looks the part, that’s for sure. But sadly, looking the part isn’t all of the job. Kutcher seemed to be focusing too much on trying to fool us into thinking he was Steve Jobs by replicating his mannerisms and awkward slouched-over walk than actually being Steve Jobs. This might be just a personal problem I have with Kutcher. When I look at him, all I see is Kelso from That 70’s Show. When I heard Steve Jobs’ inspirational words coming from Kutcher’s mouth, there just didn’t seem to be any real connection between him and the lines he was reciting. This makes it extremely hard to like Jobs throughout the movie when he does so many despicable things to the loyal people around him.
Jobs is a jumble of what is considered the highlights of the entrepreneur’s career. From the beginning of the movie when we start off with a moment in 2001 when Steve introduced the iPod, we are then thrust back into the 1970’s of Steve’s Reed College days. We witness the man transform from hippie to straightforward business man. As I said before, the movie unfolds like an exact timeline of the man’s life, however, there doesn’t seem to be any actual focus or angle in which we perceive him. No moment stands out as any more memorable than the others and you really feel the length of the movie as it goes on. It’s not a good sign when I start checking my watch during the movie to see what time it is and I did this more than a few times. By the time the camera faded to black and the credits started rolling, I was thankful that it was finally over yet highly displeased at the timing. I can’t even remember how the film ended but I remember that it seemed like a really strange place for it to finally stop and that it didn’t give you the sense of a concluded story at all.
If there was an angle to the way they told the story of Jobs, it was probably how he eventually ran into problems with the CEO of Apple that he appointed and was eventually forced out of the company. This was only mildly interesting as a story line though and I found it interesting that they almost completely ignored the rivalry between Jobs and Bill Gates. There is a scene in which Jobs is seen yelling at Gates through the phone, and there are a few mentions to the race with IBM to produce the personal computer, but nothing that resembles an actual story line about it. Instead, Joshua Michael Stern seems too determined to cover the whole span of Jobs’ career at Apple that there doesn’t seem to be any real focus of the movie.
Conclusion: I’m sure this is only one of the firsts of many movies to come about the legend and man who was Steve Jobs. He had such an impact on the technological world that he definitely makes for an interesting story. Unfortunately for Jobs, this was not the film that it had potential to be. Ashton Kutcher is physically convincing as Steve Jobs but nothing more, and overall, the film lacked emotion. At an over 2 hour run time, Jobs had to fight to keep my attention and in the end I left with nothing that I couldn’t have obtained by watching a quick PBS documentary at home.