Apple has transformed how we listen to music, what we do with our phones and how we connect on the Web. Barely over a year has passed since Steve Jobs died, aged 56, yet here we have the first biopic Jobs. Jobs is a biographical look at the life and career of Steve Jobs (Ashton Kutcher) – founder of Apple Computers – from his early days with Steve Wozniak (Josh Gad) in Jobs’ adoptive parent’s garage, through his battles with Apple CEO John Sculley (Matthew Modine) in the eighties, to his triumphant return to Apple as CEO and the introduction of the iPod. The storytelling is pretty straightforward, covering the ups and downs of his professional career at Apple, briefly mentioning his company Next Inc. but neglecting to mention his activities at Pixar altogether.
Overall, the film is limited in explaining how Jobs transformed Apple from an almost bankrupt company into one of the most successful companies today. It lacks the portrayal of any sort of nuance or detail behind these events which are already fairly well known. This, coupled with the fact that his personal life is barely addressed at all, indicates the probability that no one close to Jobs had anything to do with the film’s production. In fact, the real-life Wozniak is publicly venting his concerns about the biopic, stressing that it glosses over the true story of the company’s early days and Jobs’ fumbles as leader.
The overall effect is a disjointed storyline depicting a seemingly detached Jobs. For instance, we see Jobs dumping his pregnant girlfriend and refusing to recognise his newborn daughter as his own. Then – without explanation – after years of neglect she is suddenly living with him and he’s gone from antisocial to being a family man. Furthermore, if you expected this film to explore the rivalry between Apple Computer and Microsoft on the development of the personal computer forget it. There is barely mention of Microsoft or Gates except for one scene which is shortly dismissed as insignificant.
Perhaps the only redeeming quality about Jobs is its supporting cast. Josh Gad makes an excellent Steve Wozniak, coming off as far more likable than Jobs himself, while Dermot Mulroney as Mike Markkula and Matthew Modine’s character are adequate in the other supporting roles but do not have much to do aside from offering foils for Jobs’ ambitions. Casting a figure of such immense social and cultural importance was never going to be easy. Jobs feels TV-movie-ish. Kutcher spent a great deal of time learning Jobs’ mannerisms and how he moved, and countless hours listening to Soundcloud files of his speeches in order to mimic how he talked. But when Kutcher starts to act he just doesn’t come across as Jobs nor does he even slightly resemble him. And his lack of acting talent is on full display. He depicts Jobs as a total lunatic, a tyrant, who would do anything to succeed rather instead of someone who is highly emotional. There’s no real underlying story, no real character development. Overall, Jobs is pretty entertaining, and the 122 minutes feel fast. Anybody unfamiliar with Apple or Jobs will get the basic idea as the important events are covered, but again, it’s very straightforward.