Jobs

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes…”

Apple’s 1997 “Think Different” ad is well known among the tech community (and beyond) as a brilliant testimony to the company’s outside-the-box thinking. So it’s with a heaping dose of irony that Jobs, Joshua Michael Stern’s bio-pic of Apple’s founder, comes off as a bland made-for-TV movie that is, for the most part, devoid of anything cutting edge or even memorable.

After a quick prologue that shows Steve Jobs (Ashton Kutcher) revealing the first iPod to Apple staff in 2001, the film flashes back to 1974, when Jobs had just dropped out of Reed College. From there we witness the nascent stages of what would, in two years, become Apple Computer before following Jobs and his company through his 1986 ouster and then finishing at his 1997 return.

Anyone hoping for a glimpse inside the mind of arguably the most creative and influential man of his generation better look elsewhere (perhaps the upcoming Aaron Sorkin-penned version?); Stern’s take is heavy on office politics and light on insight.

If I didn’t know better (and, honestly, I can’t be sure) it seems first-time screenwriter Matt Whiteley simply read Jobs’ Wikipedia listing and made an outline of major moments during the 23-year span the movie covers. Calligraphy class? Check. Trip to India? Check. Design of Apple II? Denial of baby daughter Lisa? Apple IPO? Check, check, and check.

There’s no depth, very little context, and a lot of it simply happens and then hangs there. Later in the film, for example, we see Jobs and Lisa living together, but we’re never told how it came about– it’s especially odd given the big deal Whiteley made about it earlier in the film. And why even include that opening iPod scene if you end the movie’s timeline years before the thing even went into development?

If there’s one bright spot in Jobs, and yes I’m saying this with a straight face, it’s that Kutcher knocks his performance out of the park. It may not be accurate (especially if you believe Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak’s appraisal of the film… which I do), but there’s no denying it– this is not the same Ashton Kutcher who used to stink up the screen with clunkers like Valentine’s Day, Killers, and What Happens in Vegas. Here he offers a raw and honest performance that’s sure to turn heads… if only he had a script that made it all worthwhile or a film that did justice to the ultimate “crazy one”.

2.5/5 stars