ASHTON KUTCHER DERMOT MULRONEY JOSH GAD LUKAS HAAS MATTHEW MODINE
Jobs has a lot of things working against it as a film, the most obvious being the questionable talent of celebrity Ashton Kutcher. Known more for his work as a model and his failed marriage to Demi Moore, the 35-year-old actor attempts to flesh out a character that was very complicated and, at least according to this screenplay, not very likeable. The other element working against Jobs is the superiority of telling a similar story as David Fincher did with The Social Network. Not only has the Steve Jobs story been told on a smaller scale before, but there isn’t a lot of creative film making involved here, certainly not the imagination Jobs himself speaks about within the film.
When we meet the barefoot Jobs he has dropped out of college and is sleeping on a bench, but still carrying a notebook and attending classes. We watch him do drugs and look at the sky, argue and speak down to the imagination team of Atari. Finally his creative interests are peaked when friend Steve Wozniak (Gad) introduces him to this thing called a personal computer he is working on. We watch as this smelly hippie becomes obsessed with out-inventing not only the competition, but anyone. His hostile ambition begins to destroy the personal and professional relationships he has made and force everyone to question his real motives. “I can’t work for other people; I just need my independence.”
The film opens with a prologue introducing us to Kutcher as the face of the deceased creator as he unveils the iPod in 2001. Kutcher’s look certainly does embody the man we have seen in photos (at least from behind). One of the few positives of casting Kutcher (Dude, Where’s My Car, No Strings Attached) in this nearly villainous role is that his own noted narcissism and destructive behavior was an easy persona for him to adhere to. According to cinema, all of these inventors and creators are similar in nature. Instead of using creative elements to tell this story, it often relies on montage to skip through long periods until we arrive at a scene where Jobs can figuratively destroy someone else.
Both screenwriter (first timer) and director don’t seem to appreciate the multiple layers of both the man or film. It’s unintentionally ironic that Jobs preaches on the screen about doing things not better, but different, yet this film is as plain and simple as it could be. There are unveiling moments throughout that use a loud, emotional score and close-ups that attempt to falsely trick the audience into feeling something for Jobs, the movement, or even the creative achievement, but that is never earned cinematically and feels false.
Final Thought – A fascinating human being in a very stale production.
By: Dustin Chase
Dr. Donna Copeland’s
The film Jobs will suffer greatly in the comparison with David Fincher’s Social Network. Much of the difference is probably one of experience (or lack thereof) on the part of the writer (Matt Whiteley) and director (Joshua Michael Stern) in this film, as well as Ashton Kutcher’s not pulling off the resemblance to Steve Jobs as well as Jesse Eisenberg did Zuckerberg. Another factor may be that Steve Jobs had left behind a lifetime of people he had unceremoniously dumped, and these actions were shown in the film, raising the viewers’ antagonism toward him. Yes, he was a genius, but not a very likeable one—not that they are usually much different. The Fincher film was about Zuckerberg’s early life, and while he had his not-so-admirable moments, they were far fewer simply because of his age. Nor were the viewers as sympathetic with the Winklevoss twins as with Steve Jobs’ adversaries.
All that being said, my impression is that this account of Steve Jobs is fairly objective; it certainly is not a whitewash of his character. I assume that the business aspects—the company board activities and machinations are reasonably close to the truth, and that part was interesting to see. It highlights the point that corporate boards have a great deal of power and may be more concerned with their self-interest at the expense of creativity or the company’s success in terms of product.
Kutcher’s portrayal of Jobs is fairly convincing, especially in his physical appearance and mannerisms, but across the course of the movie, the viewer is aware that is it Kutcher. Supporting actors Dermot Mulroney, Josh Gad, and J. K. Simmons are very good.
Much more is expected from a proposed film from Sony Pictures, which is being written by Aaron Sorkin. Sorkin will base his work on the authorized biography of Jobs by Walter Isaacson, as well as his own research.