Jobs (Director: Joshua Michael Stern): Steve Jobs is the title Walter Isaacson gave to his authorized biography of the former Apple CEO. It is thorough, honest and insightful. By contrast, Joshua Michael Stern’s biopic is suitably titled Jobs. It provides a pedestrian summary of Isaacson’s book, brings nothing new to the table and ignores the most interesting and final phase of Steve Jobs’ career.
Rather than fast-forwarding through Jobs’ life, it might have been interesting to slow down and examine a few of the things that made him “insanely great.” The film glosses over Jobs’ relationship with his estranged daughter, his complicated friendship with Bill Gates, his marriage, the years at Next, Pixar and more.
The film covers a 30 year period beginning in 1971 with a barefoot, hippie Jobs, a Reed College dropout who experiments with drugs. It ends with guru Jobs in a black turtleneck and captures the excitement around the 2001 launch of the iPod music player.
Apple fanboys will enjoy how the film gives us a glimpse of what it was like to be in Silicon Valley at a Homebrew Computer Club meeting, the West Coast Computer Faire, or the famous garage where Apple began. Despite all of my misgivings, Jobs is an entertaining look back at the personal computer revolution.
Ashton Kutcher does a credible job of portraying Steve Jobs in the way he talks and gestures. He also mimics Jobs’ unique hunched over walk but in some scenes it is too forced and he ends up looking like a bouncing muppet. It’s difficult to accept Kutcher in a serious role but to his credit he pulls it off.
There is a great supporting cast with Dermot Mulroney, Matthew Modine, Lukas Haas, J.K. Simmons and Josh Gad but most of these actors are sidelined by Kutcher who dominates the film. Josh Gad kind of looks like Steve Wozniak and provides one of the best scenes in the movie when he tearfully leaves Apple. Unfortunately this part of Apple history was fabricated by screenwriter Matt Whiteley along with a few other events in the film.
Whitely’s script tends to put Jobs in a favourable light most of the time and glosses over anything that makes him look weak. We never see the Jobs that Isaacson describes as running out of meetings, crying in defeat. There are so many incredible stories about Jobs that could have been leveraged to provide a different take on his story or some new insight into what made him great.