If there is one thing that the slapdash biopic Jobs will teach you about Apple co-founder Steve Jobs it’s that he was an obnoxious and contemptible person (i.e. a douchebag, of note). And while all that could possibly make for great subject matter, the film seems like a missed opportunity to truly explore the dark mind of one of the world’s greatest innovators. A surprisingly effective performance from Ashton Kutcher, who clearly did his homework, feels lost in a fragmented script that tries to cover nearly two decades within in a short space of time. While the true story behind Apple’s rise might be an intriguing one, Jobs fails to incorporate all the elements, which include betrayal, greed, obsession and innovation. Instead, we are treated to a brief history lesson.
Joshua Michael Stern and Matt Whiteley clearly weren’t paying attention when Fincher’s The Social Network was giving classes on how to create an entertaining, compelling and relevant biopic. Jobs opts to check off bullet points of information rather than create suspense or wonder. Not to mention, it has been decried by many as being grossly inaccurate.
Using a common biopic technique, the film starts at the end. Steve Jobs is wearing his trademark attire (a dated polo neck, dorky jeans and wire-rim glasses) and revealing the iPod to a small audience of employees. It seems like an appropriate place to start and also to reveal Kutcher’s similarities to the Apple billionaire. We are quickly moved on to Jobs hippie years where we find him loitering around university campuses and popping acid. It then makes a few giant leaps and we are fast forwarded to Jobs’ days at Atari. It’s here that we see the first signs of greatness and his awful people skills. His boss declares him impossible to work with and he soon finds a new means of income; creating computers with Steve Wozniak in his parents garage. Not long after Mike Markkula steps in as an investor. Blink your eyes and you could miss the rise of an empire. Every detail of the story emerges and disappears so quickly that the audience barely has time to take anything in, leaving important questions unanswered. What follows is a PowerPoint presentation of highlights from his life and his inventions.
The irony of Jobs is that the creators of the film are uninspired while telling a story about someone who inspires (despite being a douchebag). There are moments of wonder hidden in the 128 minutes, but most of it is frustratingly incomplete. It softens the edges too often and doesn’t do enough to be the essential portrait of Steve Jobs. On a positive note, Kutcher finally shakes off the Kelso curse.