FlixChatter Review: Jobs

JOBSmovieposter

The main draw for me about this film is not the talents involved, but the subject matter of one of the most revered innovator of the 20th century. As a huge fan of Apple products, naturally both my hubby and I knew quite a bit about Steve Jobs’ life. My hubby more so than I am as he’s read a lot more stuff on him, including the Walter Isaacson’s official biography that’s published shortly before his death. There is another biopic in the works that’s going to be based on that book, currently in the development stage with Aaron Sorkin as the writer. Now, THAT is the biopic I’m looking forward to, which I read recently has gotten the blessings from Steve Wozniak. THIS film on the other hand, was made with no involvement from Apple whatsoever, Steve Wozniak himself would not recommend the film, saying he was ‘turned off’ by Jobs’ script (posted in the comment section of Gizmodo.com review the film.

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This film focuses on the early years of Apple, how Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak first came up with the first personal computer. It began with one of Job’s famous keynotes (or Stevenotes) in 2001 when he unveiled one of Apple’s masterpiece iPod, which forever changed the way people listen to music, and the music industry itself. Then it wind back about 30 years with Steve sleeping on a sofa at Reed College, Portland, unsure of what he wanted to do with his life. It was shot in a whirlwind of vignettes with the Hippy-looking Jobs getting high with his friends, a trip to India to find ‘enlightenment’, working at Atari where his insolent work ethic clashes with his co-workers. All of this happens relatively fast, but I felt like the movie sort of got off in the wrong foot for me as even 10 minutes in, I already found it to be tedious, even grating. To be honest, despite their physical resemblance, I’m not exactly fond of Ashton Kutcher‘s casting. He just gets on my nerves and seeing him portraying Jobs behaving badly just accentuates that.

AKutcher_SJobs

To be fair, as the film went on, I found that Kutcher’s portrayal isn’t the worst part of the film. I actually think he did his best with imitating Jobs’ gestures, the way he walked, etc., trying earnestly to shed the image of the dimwitted Kelso from That 70s Show. Unfortunately, there’s more to a compelling portrayal of a real-life persona that mere physicality. On top of that, the superficial, ‘episodic’ script from first timer Matt Whiteley doesn’t do him any favor. Once in flashback mode, the film pretty much tread along in a linear fashion.

Still, it was amusing to see how he and Wozniak ended up building Apple computers out of Jobs’ parents’ garage. Seeing what Wozniak (Josh Gad) came up with, which he didn’t seem to think much of, Jobs was inspired to combine a typewriter with a TV, and that’s how Apple II was born. Then came Mike Markkula (Dermot Mulroney – who’s good here though he looks nothing like the real guy!), a former Intel engineer who came on board to fund their business. Apple II ended up being a hit at the San Francisco’s West Coast Computer Faire (Jobs was only 21 years old at the time) and the rest is well, history.

Jobs_MulroneyModine

I think people who are familiar with the story of Apple would recognize right away the supporting characters in the film: Matthew Modine as CEO John Scully (which Jobs personally recruited from Pepsi), J.K. Simmons as Apple Board leader Arthur Rock, as well Kevin Dunn as CEO Gil Amelio which Jobs ousted in 1997 in a boardroom coup as Apple stocks continued its downward slump.

Yet the dramatization just isn’t all that compelling. In fact, for a biopic about one of the most creative brains of this century, the way his story is told lacks creativity. Director Joshua Michael Stern often tries to hard to be imaginative with his camera angles and whatnot, i.e. blurry effect before a scene comes into focus, but it feels too gimmicky to me. All the details about Jobs’ quirks (being a fruitarian, lack of physical hygiene, his temper tantrums, etc.) are well-covered here, but the film never really captured the ‘essence’ nor the ‘heart’ of the character. It seems that the film is far more concerned about portraying the ‘genius’ aspect of Jobs, completely glossing over his personal life. It’s never explored how he went from being a complete jerk to his pregnant girlfriend to being a family man with Laurene Powell up until the day of his death. Not sure how he got around to naming the first Apple computer after his first daughter after he vehemently rejected the idea that he was the father.

Jobs_Ashton_ThinkDifferent

In the finale, when Jobs recited his most famous quote for his Think Different campaign, I didn’t feel that this film earned it. I remember being so moved when I first heard that quote years ago that ends with “… because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” Yet hearing it at the end of this film didn’t quite have the same impact. Perhaps because the Steve Jobs as portrayed in this film failed to connect with me. If anything, it makes me long for the other biopic that I mentioned above.

Final Thoughts: Subpar script, lackluster direction and that Kutcher’s lack of dramatic chops contribute to something that looks more like a TV movie. Heck, even the decidedly made-for-TV Pirates of Silicon Valley that focused on the parallel lives of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs got a much better critical reviews. I really think the people involved in this film tried to bite more things than they can chew, perhaps it might’ve been better if they had narrowed the scope of the film and focused on a certain period of Jobs life instead. So yeah, this one certainly would NOT end up in my list of favorite Biopics.

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2 out of 5 reels

Well, what do you think of this film and/or Ashton Kutcher in general?

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60 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review: Jobs

  1. I agree with Keith, fantastic review of a film I’m sure you’d agree could have matched it, but didn’t. I’ll probably wait to rent this. I didn’t have a good feeling toward it (rushed products rarely do well in the movie theater, or other venues). Thanks for this, Ruth.

    1. Thanks Michael. I had a feeling it won’t be fantastic but I was hoping that it’d at least be decent. I am looking forward to the other biopic by Aaron Sorkin though.

  2. Great review, Ruth. I thought the physical resemblance with Kutcher and Jobs amazing, but sorry to hear the film fell short. I wasn’t in a hurry to see this on the big screen. Now I’ll wait.

    1. Yeah, the physical resemblance is spot on, sadly the similarities stopped there. Kutcher just isn’t nowhere near as charismatic as the real Steve Jobs.

  3. ninvoid99

    Anything that features Ashton Kutcher (unless it’s “That 70s Show” or “Dude, Where’s My Car?”) is a guaranteed shit-fest. No matter how many cellphones he sells or tweets he promotes, he doesn’t draw a fucking dime in my book. Red Forman was right, he is a kettlehead.

    1. Ahahaha, too funny Steven. Not much of an Ashton fan eh? Well I don’t blame you. He may be a good businessman but he really shouldn’t be an actor.

  4. Tackles everything we already knew about Jobs, without throwing anything new, cool, or interesting in there. And hell, even if it does bring something to the table, it just drops it like a fly. Good review Ruth.

    1. Yeah, it’s such a dry adaptation w/ not a smidgen of creativity. I think even Jobs himself would cringe to see how boring his life appears on screen, ahah.

    1. Hello Mark! If you’re not into the subject matter, then best to avoid this one.

      THANKS for posting it on Reddit, but it looks like it goes to Spam again 😦 I’ve sort of given up on that site now.

      1. Reddit is a very frustrating experience isn’t it? I normally find that if you question the mods in your missing post that they will correct it. But by that time, you miss the window for up votes.

        1. Yeah, I’ve already asked them to remove me from their Spam list but like you said, it’s kinda late by the time our posts are out there. I might have to find another site to get more hits 😐

          1. I once got 11,850 in one day from reddit so it is worth while. It’s just unfortunate that the mods don’t really play a fair game. That being said, I’ve not came across any other site that’s as lucrative as reddit is.

  5. Ah boo. Poor Kutcher. I wanted this movie to do well. *sighs. Maybe Kutcher will get his shot to shed the Kelso image with something else. I hear someone wants to reboot THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT. 😐

    I’ve heard how this movie got panned and I agree with Michael, that it was super rushed. I usually don’t read Reviews of movies I haven’t seen (or reviewed myself yet) but I couldn’t resist this one Ruth. 😉

    Great write up as usual…

    1. Ahah, I didn’t know you love Ashton so much. I haven’t seen Butterfly Effect, but honestly I don’t really think much of him as an actor. He makes me cringe, kinda like Ryan Gosling does but much worse.

      I do think he’s a savvy businessman though, perhaps he should retire from acting? 😀

      1. I don’t ‘love’ the guy. That’s ridiculous. I just think he’s one of those talented actors who chooses crap films. Like Dwayne Johnson, Justin Timberlake, etc. (Don’t start)

        1. I dunno Shah, I still don’t think he’s all that talented an actor. Timberlake on the other hand, I used to hate his guts but he’s actually getting a bit better the more films he’s doing, though I still won’t regard him a strong actor. As for Dwayne, well he’s got a certain appeal that has nothing to do w/ acting chops 😉

            1. Hi Julian, you’re referring to Dwayne Johnson right? I’m still curious to check that one out, looks pretty funny. He’s a charismatic guy despite his limited acting range.

          1. I’ll have you eating your words when Kutcher buys– I mean gets awarded that Oscar! 😐

            Timberlake has always had potential, it just took him time to get comfortable in front of the camera. He’s a funny guy too, so I think he’s better in random roles in funny movies like BAD TEACHER. Although he was pretty powerful in ALPHA DOGS, as an example of his earlier stuff.

            Yea… that’s the problem with Rock. His mainstream image and appeal prevent him from doing any roles that may actually need him to flex something other than his pecs. Tsk. Waiting for that… career buster, as I like to call it. That one role that has people go… ‘whoa’.

            1. Ahah, I’ll wait until that happens then Shah 😉

              As for Justin, I thought he was good in Social Network but I didn’t think he was a strong enough actor to lead a film (i.e. In Time), but I’m still curious about Runner, Runner. You’re right he does have comedic timing.

              Yep, I think The Rock needs to stretch his acting muscles instead of just relying on his massive um, charisma (well and pecks too). I’d say he should do an indie film playing against type, but that is if he wants to be taken seriously.

              1. IN TIME was horrible. He’s not a headliner yet. Hopefully a role with Affleck gives him some street cred.

                Glad to see you agree about Rock. That guy… needs a better agent.

                1. I love the concept of In Time and I was hopeful since the director also did Gattaca which was interesting. But I didn’t like the two lead actors, plus the execution could’ve been a lot better.

                  Well I do think The Rock is where he wants to be right now, making tons of $$$. If he wanted to be a serious actor then he’d have to change things up.

  6. Ted S.

    Ever since this project was announced, I just have no desire to see it. I don’t mind Ashton Kutcher but I can never see him in any other role than Kelso. He’s just doesn’t have the chops to do dramatic role, even if he looks like the real Steve Jobs. Also, as much as I love Apple’s product and respected Jobs as an innovator, I don’t think I want to know more about him. From what I read and heard about him, he’s not a pleasant person at all and I don’t think I’ve ever want to work for him, well I don’t think I’m smart enough to work at his company anyway. 🙂

    1. Ahah, so true about working for Apple. I think most people are not smart enough for Jobs, and unless you’re brilliant like Jonathan Ives, I’d be scared to work for him too!

  7. Hey there, Ruth – Interesting review on this film! I’m not particularly keen to see a Steve Jobs biopic, but am with you when you say you’re much more interested in seeing what Aaron Sorkin does with said material. Ashton Kutcher does look the part, and is to be commended for trying to stretch his acting muscles, but he’s just a lightweight actor and, to me, doesn’t have enough presence to hold the center of a serious film. Thanks for seeing this so I don’t have to!

    1. Hi Jeff! I have a feeling Sorkin would probably bring in viewers who otherwise aren’t interested in Jobs’ life. Plus I heard that he’s going to use an unusual format for the film, whatever that means, but I’m intrigued nonetheless. As for Ashton, you said it best, he certainly doesn’t have enough presence to hold the center of a serious film.

  8. I already like losing my interest when they cast Kutcher. I already imagined Christian Bale would do it (I read Total Magazine’s picks of the actors that they think should play Jobs). Maybe I’ll pass on this, or I’ll check it out later. Thanks for sharing, Ruth!

    1. Hmmm, I don’t know about Bale as Jobs but he’s certainly a thousand times more interesting and capable actor. If you’re curious about the film, I suppose it’s still worth a rent Andina.

  9. I’m going to ignore your comment to my man Shah about Ryan Gosling making you cringe, as I dont want to fall out with you Ruth. Just admit Gosling is a god amongst men and we will be fine again 😉

    I actually like Kutcher, and I’ll always tell anyone that The Butterfly Effect is a great film and he is superb in it. I even prefer him to Charlie Sheen in 2 and a half men. 🙂

    1. Ahahaha, don’t mean to offend your man crush Ty, but all the adulation is seriously perplexing me, but let’s just leave it at that 😀

      Well then perhaps you’d enjoy this film more than I did Ty. I know Kutcher has his fanbase 😀

  10. I would say I’m disappointed that this film was disappointing but as you say Ruth, we have the Aaron Sorkin version to look forward to. Any idea who’s directing it? It’ll be interesting to see if the Sorking version of events will through caution to the wind re accuracy and go for entertainment value like the Social Network. Not that I’d notice not having read the biography, I’d much rather wait for the next biopic though I’ll probably take it with a pinch of salt. Thanks for the heads up on this one Ruth.

    1. Hi Ronan, it’s too bad really as Jobs life is quite intriguing. I don’t know yet who’ll be directing the Aaron Sorkin version, but for sure it’s already got Wozniak’s backing. I think the fact that it’s based on a biography that Jobs himself approved, the story’d be more accurate as well.

  11. Great review Ruth! I kinda expected this to be a bit of a dud to be honest. I just couldn’t get excited about it whatsoever from day one. I don’t know when work started on this but to me it feels like a bit of a cash in on Jobs’ death. Think I’ll be skipping this one.

    1. Hello Chris, thanks! Yeah, if you’re not excited about it at all then I’d just skip it. I think Kutcher’s probably been wanting to do a biopic on Jobs as he looks a lot like him in his younger days.

  12. Fantastic review Ruth! This seems to be the common consensus out there, which is too bad because this movie could’ve been so good! I’ll probably go see it eventually, probably as a rental, but I’m really hoping the Aaron Sorkin film will capture the apparently elusive nature of Steve Jobs. 🙂

    1. Hi Billy! I think once I saw the screenwriter is a novice it’s already a bad sign. Kutcher is not a strong actor but he’s actually not the worst part of the film. Yeah, I think Sorkin actually knew Jobs and they had mutual respect for each other so hopefully we’ll see a more accurate and compelling portrayal out of that biopic.

    1. Amateur is a good word for it Eric! Yep, the casting was one thing, but I think the script and editing were the biggest issues w/ this film I think.

  13. Nice review, Ruth. I’m also unsurprised at this turning out to be a flop at the box office. Even putting aside the quality issues, and the Ashton Kutcher casting, I don’t see very many biopics that succeed while their subject is still in living memory. (The Social Network being an exception.) How many people were really looking to learn more about Steve Jobs anyhow? To most people, he’s not a guru to follow, he’s just a guy who is vaguely associated with their MP3 player. They know the name, but they have no more connection to him than they do to the person who designed their car. Granted, they could probably do a decent biopic on him, just as they could for Lee Iacocca, but in either instance, the marketing needs to really show some zing to get people to go watch it. The marketing for The Social Network had that quality; the marketing for Jobs did not.

    1. Hi Morgan! Well, I think there are people who are interested in seeing a biopic on an inventor like Steve Jobs. Interesting you mentioned Lee Iacocca as I’d be interested in seeing a film or documentary on him too. You’re right about the marketing and that extra ‘zing’ to get ppl to see it, I don’t think Jobs has that and the film itself ends up being lackluster.

      1. I would certainly be interested in seeing a good biopic on either of those guys. And I agree, there are other people who would. I just think that the general audience is mostly going to go for biopics on pop culture stars (Ray, Ali), and historical figures (Lincoln, Gandhi) more than “recent business man”, hence the need for good marketing.

  14. I was never excited about this film, so I’ll be skipping it. Kutcher seemed miscast from the start, and I didn’t expect the film to deliver. It’s too bad the writing and direction weren’t very good either. Oh well.

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