Jobs Review

Posted: August 21, 2013 by moviebuff801 in moviebuff801's Movie Reviews

By: Michael “Moviebuff801” Dennos

Steve Jobs was an innovator and a visionary, someone with a fierce resolve to bring people the best possible product.  He’s the reason why we can hold a multitude of songs in the palm of our hands now and listen to them anywhere at any time.  Clearly, the man was a perfectionist, which is something made pretty ironic when you consider this new movie made about his life.  The late Mr. Jobs is the newest addition in a long line of real-life individuals whose accomplishments and contributions Hollywood has deemed worthy of a film.  Unfortunately, I get the sense that if Steve Jobs were still alive today, he’d be as unimpressed and indifferent toward it as he was with one of the earlier Apple computer designs.  Not because it misrepresents him or anything like that, but because as a movie, to use his words, “it can be better.”

When the movie opens, an older Steve Jobs (Ashton Kutcher) first introduces the iPod to an enthusiastic crowd at an Apple Town Hall meeting.  From there, we flashback to 1974, where Jobs has recently dropped out of Reed College due to the high cost of tuition.  However, he still stays on campus and continues to attend classes, usually not wearing shoes or socks.  After a visit to India, the film flashes forward two years, when Jobs worked at Atari and met someone who would prove to be a good friend and important figure in Jobs’ life, Steve Wozniak (Josh Gad).  The two of them co-found Apple Computer together in the garage of Jobs’ parents’ house, and after an arduous time of attempting to sell their product to investors, they finally cross paths with Mike Markkula (Dermot Mulroney), who believes in their little enterprise and gives them the money to move forward.  Years later, Apple has become a viable and important company, and the rest of the film charts all the ups and downs of not only Jobs’ professional career, but also his personal life, including his feud with IBM and John Sculley (Matthew Modine), the CEO of Apple who forced Jobs out of his own company in 1985.

Allow me to be perfectly frank when I say that Jobs is your typical bio-pic fare.  It takes the life of its titular character and chronicles the more impactful moments of his life with a certain degree of competency, but never does anything remarkable or interesting in the process.  On top of that, the subject matter of the film is pretty dry when you get down to it.  For comparison, I direct your attention back to 2010’s fantastic film The Social Network, which was about the creation of Facebook and all of the backstabbing that resulted in the wake of it.  The Social Network and Jobs are both fairly similar in terms of their subject matter, but the difference between them is that the former definitely feels like it has more effort and heart put into it than the latter.  Jobs very much has the feel of “Let’s make a Steve Jobs movie,” rather than “Let’s make a Steve Jobs movie…and make it good.”  This movie seems very thrown-together following Jobs’ death in 2011, with little to no passion about its subject, not to mention a pretty confusing portrayal of said subject.

As Steve Jobs, Ashton Kutcher gives what has to be the best performance of his career.  He has Steve Jobs nailed, right on down to his slouchy walk.  Kutcher drops any of his more annoying quirks and subdues himself effectively, showing that he can be good when he needs to be.  That the film itself is ultimately lackluster is even more of a shame when you look at the passion and conviction apparent in Ashton Kutcher’s performance.  It’s not deserving of a movie this disappointing, and the same can be said for the rest of the acting; the performances are easily the best part of this film.  Even Josh Gad surprises by turning in some nicely mannered work.

But the solid acting from Kutcher can’t make up for the problematic script of Jobs.  Getting back to what I was saying about the film offering up a confusing portrayal of Steve Jobs, it feels like the movie can never decide what it wants to say about the man.  Was he a misunderstood visionary continually being held down by more demanding corporations?  Was he a stubborn jerk who just had to always get his way?  The movie never takes a clear stance in that regard.  One minute, Jobs is being shown as a determined visionary and the next, he’s an uncharismatic slave driver in the workplace.  The more successful bio movies manage to pick a clear way in which to portray its subject and use the writing to enhance that portrait.  Not Jobs — it’s too busy merely going through Steve Jobs’ life fast enough to fit into a 2-hour running time.

The other fault of this screenplay is that it’s just too formulaic and uninteresting, something made even more bland by the equally unremarkable direction of Joshua Michael Stern.  Stern seems too content with showing a few of the more interesting aspects of Jobs’ life, such as the time he spent in India, by way of montages.  Also, I was disappointed to not see the film show any of the time Jobs spent with Pixar, but then I suppose that might have been asking for too much.

I’ve seen an example of the best that the bio genre has to offer (Man on the Moon), and Jobs falls well-short of that high standard.  It may have a terrific performance by Ashton Kutcher and solid work by all of the supporting actors, but while Jobs may not be awful, the end result is still something that’s just mediocre at best.  And when it came to Steve Jobs, “mediocre” wasn’t in his vocabulary.

**/****

Comments
  1. CMrok93 says:

    Good review Michael. Barely reveals anything new or interesting about Jobs, just shows/tells us all that we’ve already heard and seen from the dude’s life.

  2. moviebuff801 says:

    Thanks. Yeah. that’s certainly the film’s biggest shortcoming. Too bad.

  3. i thought the acting was abhorrent (aside from josh gad) as was the barely there script and directing.

  4. moviebuff801 says:

    Agree to disagree.

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