The real genius gets jobbed
The new biopic “Jobs,” about the late Apple Computer co-founder Steve Jobs, features some of the best acting of Ashton Kutcher’s career. Unfortunately, the script, like Kutcher’s portrayal, never really digs deep enough into the brilliant and often enigmatic title character. What we’re left with is a film that often feels like a big budget glimpse of a figure whose accomplishments are unquestionable but whose inner mysteries are only superficially explored.
The film gets off to a rocky, frankly odd start by depicting a young Jobs as a student at Reed College in the bay area, tripping on acid and calligraphy, being a bad boyfriend, and only hinting at the feelings of abandonment he harbored toward his birth parents. The story and the energy of the film improve dramatically when Jobs meets the ‘other’ Steve—Wozniak (an engaging Josh Gad)—whose pioneering work on the keyboard lays the foundation for the personal computer. (An idea panned by many major companies.) The camaraderie within Jobs’ first business team, along with his temperamental nature, provide the film’s most revealing and interesting scenes and the film might have been much better had it focused on this period.
Instead, the film tries to cover a lot of ground, from Apple’s ascension in the computer world to its struggles with successive models like the “Lisa” computer, to Jobs’ battles with his own backers (Dermot Mulroney is solid as investor Mike Markkula), through his ouster in 1986 and his return as Apple’s head some 10 years later.
In his time with Apple, Jobs spearheaded some of the most culture-defining technology that is now part of nearly every modern society, but the film doesn’t even try to analyze the origins of his visionary acumen. His personal life is treated with indifference and the film centers on corporate politics more than how Apple was able to succeed in such a competitive market.
As for Kutcher, it is clear he put in the effort to study his subject. But his physical interpretations, while seemingly accurate, also feel more like an attempt to impersonate rather than to be immersive. Let’s just say Kutcher won’t be catching up to Daniel Day-Lewis in Oscar wins any time soon.
A thorough documentary on Jobs’ life involving those who knew him well would have made more sense in order to properly define the extraordinary and often tumultuous life of arguably the greatest innovator of his time – a job this “Jobs” can’t quite manage.
Rated PG-13 for some drug content and brief strong language.