Steve Jobs is one of the most influential people to ever grace the world of technology. His skills as a game-changing entrepreneur helped alter the everyday world that we live in. Jobs is a movie about Steve’s early life and how he eventually started up Apple, got fired and then eventually rehired. Jobs is a film about Apple’s history and Steve’s temper and inability to work well with others. Jobs is also a misfire of emotions, rarely showing us the real Steve Jobs and instead showing us what we’ve already read a million times before in the newspapers and magazines. Joshua Michael Stern‘s biopic is a lengthy exploration not of a man and his legacy, but of his already known achievements and how he accomplished a few of them.
Steve Jobs (Ashton Kutcher) wasn’t always the likable genius that introduced the latest iProduct with ease. At one point Jobs was a drug-trying hippie that rarely wore shoes, never showered and yet still always found a way to piss off those around him. Steve was not an easy man to work with or to be around, yet he went on to found Apple and eventually change the technology world for the better with involvement in over a dozen revolutionary products.
Jobs is the first of probably many biopics that attempts to peel away at the various layers of the man known as Steve Jobs. Director Joshua Michael Stern attempts to tell a more personal tale about the iconic man, but the result is a film that mostly skims over his personal battle and struggles in exchange for highlighting his more successful points in life, despite them already being widely known and discussed in the news and media. Jobs isn’t as worried about telling the tale of the man as it is about telling the tale of the company that he helped create and build, only to get fired and eventually rehired once again.
That’s fine and dandy if you know nothing or very little about Apple, but it starts to become a chore if you’ve read anything about Jobs at one point in your life or perhaps have used one of the dozen products that he’s had a heavy hand in creating.
Jobs works well if its intentions were strictly to educate the viewers on Apple’s history and background, but not so much the man behind it all. The film quickly rushes over Jobs’ early life, revealing that he’s (GASP) tried drugs at one point and apparently had a psychedelic reaction to them. Instead of adding any meaning or purpose behind these scenes, Stern unravels a twenty minute mash-up that alternates between Jobs tripping balls in a field of grass while also slowly becoming “the man” that he was always meant to be.
Stern repeats this sloppy filmmaking technique again by skimming over Jobs’ early problems with accepting that he has a child by showing nothing more than a five minute scene of him showing anger and frustration and then following it up with a montage of Jobs shaving his scruffy beard and slicking his hair back over a nice suit.
See, Stern and his writer aren’t interested in showing you the transformation unfold in real-time and instead choose to show key moments in Jobs’ life in quick motion, while dedicating an entire act of the film to Jobs eventually getting fired from Apple, which doesn’t even work as a surprise to those not familiar with the history behind the film.
The film fumbles around every corner, because of Stern’s unfocused direction that never decides if it wants to tell you a story about Steve Jobs or a story strictly about Apple and Jobs’ involvement. The film hints and teases, but never really bothers digging deeper into the mind of such an interesting man.
Jobs does do a good job painting Steve and some of his coworkers, but the film’s performances are afterthoughts to a story that goes absolutely nowhere.
Ashton Kutcher gives it his all as Steve Jobs, but comes up way too short. This isn’t because of lack of dedication on Kutcher’s part, but more so a miscast on the director’s part. Kutcher certainly looks like a young Jobs and deserves some recognition for trying, but he was never going to be a conceivable Jobs and everything he does or says ends up coming out as forced and over-played.
The film also suffers from wonky pacing problems. Moments that should be stretched and focused on are cut down to mere minutes, while a bulk of the film’s final act could have been summed up in ten minutes, but is instead given 35 to 40 minutes. Cutting 20 to 30 minutes from the film would have made it a much easier sitting.
Jobs has been known for his motivational speeches that always come across as easy-going and the film completely abuses them. There reaches a point when you just don’t care about anything Jobs has to say, because he offers up a fifteen minute pep talk whenever someone asks him the simplest of questions. Some of the earlier speeches hit just the right areas, while most of the later ones come across as phony and unneeded.
Why even bother making a film called Jobs if your main focus isn’t Steve Jobs? The film’s agenda is much more focused on Apple and Jobs’ time with Apple and not so much anything else that he does in between. Ashton Kutcher tries to channel his best Jobs impersonation, but comes out speaking oddly and walking even funnier.
But none of that even matters, because Joshua Michael Stern‘s direction goes nowhere for a majority of the film. There’s really no strong beginning or end to the film and instead just one okay middle piece that is surrounded by excess fat that needs trimming. As is Jobs is a bloated biopic without focus or a strong point. It’s just a cash-in on a celebrity’s death.
Watch Jobs if you know nothing about Apple, but would like to. Don’t watch Jobs if you’re looking for a well-rounded biopic that actually reveals what we don’t already know about such an important figure to the modern world.
Jobs – 6/10