Jobs

Jobs Movie ReviewOpen Road Films
Rated PG-13 for some drug content and brief strong language.
Running time: 127 minutes.
One and a half stars out of four.

The irony in “Jobs,” about the late Apple Computers co-founder Steve Jobs, is not how a man could be so beloved and yet be such a bastard. The irony is that a man who treasured innovation and sleek, stylish design should be the subject of a film that’s so bland and bloated.

Director Joshua Michael Stern has given us the worst kind of cursory biopic: It spends a great deal of time recreating key events in a complex, famous person’s life without offering any real insight into what made him tick. (Jobs died in 2011 of pancreatic cancer at 56.) You would never know from watching “Jobs” that’s it’s about a person who changed the way all of us live our lives on a daily basis. I’m typing this review on my MacBook Pro, for example, and I just got a voicemail on my iPhone. This Steve Jobs operates in a vacuum in bedrooms and boardrooms, in garages and generic office space.

We know we’re in trouble from the very start; before heading into a lengthy flashback, the film begins in 2001 with Jobs introducing the iPod to an enraptured audience of disciples at Apple headquarters. It’s not enough to have them all leap to their feet in a frenzied standing ovation — heavy-handed, feel-good music swells to indicate to us that this is a major, inspiring moment.

As Jobs, Ashton Kutcher basks in the applause in that familiar hunched-over stance in dorky dad jeans and wire-rim glasses, his dark hair and beard now white. Kutcher has proven that there’s more substance to him than the endearingly dippy persona of Kelso on ‘That ’70s Show” and one of the “Dude, Where’s My Car?” dudes would suggest. But despite being media-savvy himself, he wasn’t ready to portray a technological and cultural titan — not just yet. Kutcher operates in two modes as Jobs: He’s either quietly and mysteriously pondering his next groundbreaking project, or he’s loudly and cruelly berating anyone who dares question his vision.

Then again, Matt Whiteley’s script doesn’t give him much more to work with. Too often, it feels like a repetitive series of meetings of middle-aged white men sitting around a conference-room table; at the other extreme, it makes giant leaps in time and leaves important questions unanswered. Stern, meanwhile, adds nothing with really obvious musical cues, as if loud ’70s rock tunes with on-the-nose lyrics will create a sense of propulsive forward momentum. Cat Stevens’ “Peace Train” plays during Jobs’ acid-dropping college days; Joe Walsh’s “Life’s Been Good,” with its distinctive guitar riff, blares as Jobs and his pals put together their first computers. (I was, however,  happy to hear “Walk on the Ocean” by Toad the Wet Sprocket during the mid-’90s section of Jobs’ life. Those were good years.)

“Jobs” follows the man from his barefoot days at Reed College and his first job at Atari (where his boss declares he’s impossible to work with) through the creation of Apple Computers in his parents’ garage with pal Steve “Woz” Wozniak (Josh Gad from Broadway’s “The Book of Mormon,” who provides the rare traces of pathos and humanity here). Investor Mike Markkula (Dermot Mulroney) steps in with financial support and poof! An empire is born.

From there, it’s a series of professional ups and downs. Jobs is hailed as a genius but also blamed for perfectionistic production delays and drops in the company’s stock price. His feud is with Microsoft guru Bill Gates emerges from nowhere and then just as quickly disappears. His cruelty to underlings is explained away with the cliche of power changing him. Eventually, he is the victim of a bloody coup (led by J.K. Simmons as board president and Matthew Modine as chief executive officer) but in time he returns, triumphant.

While we see the nuts and bolts of the machinery Jobs creates, we have a harder time understanding what he’s made of as a man. He was adopted, yet he coldly casts aside his own daughter when she’s still in his girlfriend’s womb and later denies paternity and visitation rights. Apparently, he and daughter Lisa have reconciled by the time he’s living a cushy life decades later as a consultant before coming back as Apple’s CEO. How that happened — or who his new beautiful and nameless new wife is, for example — are fundamental pieces that would have helped flesh him out as a human being.

There’s much bandying about of Jobs’ mantra that you need to offer people what they want before they even know they want it. The people behind “Jobs” theoretically knew that people would want an insightful film about an enormously influential figure, but they didn’t deliver it.

10 Comments on “Jobs

  1.  by  JozieLee

    Maybe it was just too soon to tell Jobs’ story. Not enough memoirs or tell-all books have been written about his life for a screenwriter to flesh him out.

  2.  by  Jane

    I don’t know who you think you are and why your opinion even matters. However, your review is repulsive and a disgrace on the memory of Steve Jobs. You need to watch the film again and have an open mind. If you’re going to write a review, at least have a middle ground. No one appreciates your dumb, illogical review. Grow up.

    •  by  p

      You’re not saying this for real, are you? The author of the review of very diplomatic in saying that the film is crap. Which it is.

    •  by  Jason Roberts

      Are you serious? Just watched the movie and it’s not great in my opinion. It’s her job to review movies, that’s what you came here for right? You aren’t obligated to agree with her, but her review has absolutely nothing to do with the “memory” of Steve Jobs. Who, in all reality was a ass. And to be perfectly clear, nothing but good at marketing. He invented nothing, stole or appropriated all of Apples products and generally figured out a way to market existing products to half-witted consumers concerned with nothing more than technology as a status symbol. Obviously you bought into some hype that isn’t so deserving. Your comment made me cringe. You sound like you just hopped out of the fellate Steve Jobs line to shout meaningless nonsense to anyone can hear you about your new Jesus.

    •  by  Jerry Nissen

      Perhaps you moderate your tone……. This review makes some valid points.

    •  by  Joe Bloggs

      I thought the review was on-point. Is the reviewer supposed to play nice just because the movie is about someone who is deceased? I actually thought the review was probably a bit more generous than its subject deserved. The best thing about the movie is the hair and makeup. Other than that…

  3.  by  JozieLee

    I guess we all have a right to our opinion about Steve Jobs and the quality of this movie. Steve Wozniak, recently interviewed by Piers Morgan, said the movie captures Jobs’ mannerisms, but not the genius of his mind. Wozniak also said he was available for consulting on the film, but they’d already written the screenplay and there was no room for his input by the time he’d read the script. Wozniak is being accused of wanting to bash this film so that another one being developed by Aaron Sorkin will do better. Wozniak says he has no dog in the fight.

    In the coming years we’ll probably be seeing lots of movies about Jobs and none of them will capture the real man because he was just too large a character – so many things to so many people. I’m just so glad to have lived during his lifetime so I can remember the stories and impressions. And every now and then I go over to YouTube to watch the 2005 commencement speech he delivered at Stanford. Very inspirational.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF8uR6Z6KLc

  4.  by  Ben

    Say what you will about th script, but this movie was perfectly cast. I haven’t seen it yet, but knowing that Steve Jobs liked to party and said, “whoa” and “dude” a lot, I can think of no one better than the Kutch to play him.

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