At every turn, Jobs, Joshua Michael Stern's biopic of Apple mastermind Steve Jobs, begs comparison with The Social Network, and in every way it's a lesser work. Both are about prickly visionaries with strong antisocial streaks who profoundly alter the way the world interacts. But where David Fincher's film underscored how Mark Zuckerberg's insecurities and flaws made their way into the Facebook experience, Jobs treats its main character's faults like obstacles he had to overcome in order to bring his vision to all of us. Ashton Kutcher portrays the influential computer programmer/business tycoon, and the movie confronts straight away the seeming lack of physical similarity between lead actor and subject by setting the first scene at a 2001 company meeting where Jobs shows his employees the iPod for the first time. With a beard that's more salt than pepper and a voice that sounds occasionally like Michael Kelso doing an impression of Steve Jobs, Kutcher tries to capture the mystique of the man -- the opening makes you think the whole film might paint Apple like a cult. Any hope for something that pointed falls by the wayside as the movie settles into overly familiar biopic territory. During his college years, the inquisitive, iconoclastic Jobs goes backpacking around the globe with his buddy Daniel Kottke (Lukas Haas), looking for some sort of meaning and direction in his life, and when he returns home and reconnects with his lifelong friend Steve Wozniak (Josh Gad), he finds his purpose. Woz, as he's affectionately called, has been working on building a computer that can be hooked up to a regular TV, allowing the user to see what they're doing more easily. Jobs convinces a local computer store to buy motherboards from him, and soon he's got a core crew of guys in his parents' garage assembling the first Apple product. While they try to find funding to stay afloat, in walks Mike Markkula (Dermot Mulroney), who becomes a longtime business associate of Jobs' and a member of Apple's board. The company booms, and Jobs handpicks a new CEO named John Sculley (Matthew Modine), who actually turns out to have split loyalties between the free-spending visionary wunderkind and nuts-and-bolts moneyman Arthur Rock (J.K. Simmons), the chairman of the board. As Jobs relentlessly tries to come up with the next big idea, he ignores the daughter he claims isn't his and slowly begins to cut himself off from the people who helped him create the company in the first place. As a movie, Jobs is competent enough. It's watchable, though it falls far short of compelling, in part because it treats its subject with such kid gloves. Sure, the film version of Steve Jobs yells at people (the picture makes you think that's the only type of communication he ever had with Bill Gates) and can be a petulant whiner when others don't share his vision, but it never doubts for a second that everything Jobs did was amazing and in the service of a greater good. It's a hagiography that ignores the cost of his personal demons. The cast certainly help the movie go down smoothly. Kutcher can't avoid looking like Ashton Kutcher for the most part, and he overplays the character's notorious temper tantrums when he's on the phone with the object of his abuse -- though he's chillingly effective yelling in the faces of employees who disappoint him. Gad gets to be thoroughly likable as the unfailingly nice Woz, and Haas -- as the old friend whom Jobs abandons -- has a great hangdog face that comes to symbolize everything Steve Jobs sacrificed to achieve his ambitions. The script by first-time scribe Matt Whiteley is clumsy, in part because the movie takes for granted that you're already familiar with many of the figures in Apple's history: The characters drop the names of people who don't register at all if your only interaction with the company is buying an iPod. Combined with his sometimes colorless dialogue - everyone has a tendency to overexplain themselves -- and you're left with a movie that's made more tolerable than you expect because of a number of skilled character actors who keep the proceedings from crashing, but who never come close to matching their best work. Throughout the picture, Jobs declares that his company innovates and drives the market. They shouldn't follow IBM; IBM is going to follow them. The problem with this movie is that it's basically the IBM version of The Social Network -- a pale retread of something created by someone much closer to a genuine moment of inspiration.
14.99 In Stock
Swing Vote's Joshua Michael Stern takes the helm for this biopic starring Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs, and tracing the Apple co-founder's career from his early years in that Palo Alto garage to his rise as one of the computing industry's most admired innovators. By focusing on the key moments that drove Jobs' success and the conversations that made him such a controversial figure among critics, Stern and screenwriter Matt Whiteley present an intimate portrait of a driven, deeply complex man who dedicated his life to revolutionizing the way we use computers. Josh Gad, Matthew Modine, Lukas Haas, and Dermot Mulroney co-star.
All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert