2013 - 128 minutes
Directed by: Joshua Michael Stern
Written by: Matt Whiteley
Starring: Ashton Kutcher, Dermot Mulroney, Josh Gad, J.K. Simmons,
Matthew Modine, Ron Eldard, Lukas Haas, Lesley Ann Warren
Odd that a film chronicling a visionary thinker would be so brainless and boring. “Jobs” plays like a movie version of an 8th-grader’s written report on the rise and fall and rise again of
Apple Inc. After sitting through two hours-plus of rambling, I have no better idea of what Apple was or is or who Steve Jobs was.
I know Steve Jobs dropped out of college. I know he and Steve Wozniak started operating Apple Computer from a garage and built it into a huge company. I know Jobs was eventually forced out and that he revolutionized everything when he came back again. Those are the facts, but those facts in and of themselves do not a compelling movie make. But that’s all we get with “Jobs.” It’s as if writer Matt Whiteley looked up ‘Steve Jobs’ on Wikipedia and used what he found there to pen the script.
The film is messy in its transitions from one track of the ‘Steve’s Greatest Hits’ playlist to the next. There is no grace to the storytelling, with painfully awkward emphasis on the dramatic moments. Strings of the score begin to swell when Jobs pulls the iPod from his pocket for the first time. In a moment of anger, he pauses to turn closer to the camera and shout “get Bill Gates on the phone!” This typical biopic pandering is rarely successful and is downright awful here as the story itself never pauses, barreling ahead through three decades with no perspective on how events of the narrative are affecting the people involved.
In one scene, Steve is struggling with the Apple Board of Directors and is forced out in the mid-1980s; in the next, it’s the mid-90s and Jobs makes his triumphant return (complete with a broken CD player that gets thrown in the garbage – if only there were a better solution to take your music on the go. Wait a minute!). A yell in the car isn’t enough to tell us of Steve’s state during this time period.
The only scene that approaches dramatic effectiveness is Josh Gad as Wozniak giving a tearful goodbye to Steve and the company he helped to build. Gad somehow brings the goods despite there being no context to his tearful words.
Ashton Kutcher as the title subject is a microcosm of the film – he has the beard (sometimes), the round glasses and the hunched shuffle of a walk, but he remains Ashton Kutcher doing his approximation of Steve Jobs that doesn’t focus on anything of substance. “Jobs” deals in rough calculation with no awareness of fatal design flaws.
© 2013 by Blake Crane