Jobs Review

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Love him or hate him, Steve Jobs was a major influence in modern technological products today. While people debate that a lot of his ideas were stolen from others, people still regard him as the “Father of the Digital Revolution”. When Steve Jobs died of cancer in 2011, a biopic of the man would ultimately be made — the only question was when it would be made. On June 2012, production began on Jobs… Well, that didn’t take long.

Jobs portrays the life of Steve Jobs from his college days in 1971 to the introduction of the iPod in 2001. The film was directed by Joshua Michael Stern and written by first-time screenwriter Matt Whiteley. I emphasized Whiteley’s first-time screenwriter credit because of how poorly conceived the script was.

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Jobs is all over the place with its focus. Not only is it full of plot holes, it fails in telling just who Steve Jobs really is. At times he is shown as the villain, a narcissistic, egotistical, unpleasant person, and the other time he is shown as an inspiring creative genius and saint (or hippie saint). The problem doesn’t lie with the fact that they portray him as both a saint and villain; the problem lies with the fact that the film executes it so schizophrenically. For example, one segment of the film portrays him as the savior of Apple Inc., and a man who’s giving an inspiring speech to his employees, only to find him in the next scene overthrowing his board members and looking like Vito Corleone in the process. It’s this kind of two-face approach that happens a lot throughout the film.

Another big problem I had was the lack of focus and foundation within the script. It felt as if Jobs was trying to be so much like The Social Network in the way it depicts the business politics that went on behind-the-scenes at Apple. In addition, we have interwoven plotline about Steve Jobs developing key inventions throughout his life, such as the Apple II, the Apple Lisa, and the Macintosh. Oh, and in addition to that, we also have honorable mentions to his complicated relationship with his daughter (or not his daughter) Lisa Brennan-Jobs, his feud with Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and a few Apple Easter eggs sprinkled in between. Confused yet? Same here. That is a lot of concepts to explore in one film, and the film is such a mess because of it. Clearly, the script needed more time getting cleaned up before the film went into production.

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Despite the weak script, the cast that was assembled for the film all gave sound performances. Ashton Kutcher gave a really strong performance as Steve Jobs. He basically embodied the man, from his expressive hand movements to the way he walks. He nailed it. But the one complaint I had with his performance was the way that Ashton Kutcher spoke. While his delivery is spot on to how Steve Jobs really spoke, the way that Kutcher delivers his lines makes me think that Ashton Kutcher speaking instead of Steve Jobs. As someone who still thinks of Ashton Kutcher as Kelso from That 70s Show, it can be a bit distracting. Other than that, Kutcher gave a solid performance.

Another person who I liked in the film was Josh Gad as Steve Wozniak. Although in the set photos, it seems as if Gad was completely miscast as Wozniak, he actually did a great job at playing him. While his dialogue wasn’t much to go on (see: weak script), his moments on-screen resonated with me more. If you happen to watch the film, keep a look out for his Polish jokes, they’re pretty funny. The rest of the supporting cast, Dermot Mulroney, J.K. Simmons, and Matthew Modine, all helped prop up the solid middle section of the film and gave good performances throughout.

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Overall, the writing and the editing is what killed Jobs for me. If Matt Whiteley had setup the script with a solid foundation behind it instead of stitching together several central aspects of Steve Jobs life, it might have been a better film. Which is a shame because Ashton Kutcher did a good job portraying Steve Jobs. Even if I still hear Kelso in the way that he talks, Kutcher was a solid choice. Still, I know hardcore fans of Apple will enjoy a majority of the film (especially the subtle Apple Easter eggs), but regular viewers will have a difficult time getting past the dull and convoluted mess that is Jobs.

Grade: C-

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