Director: Joshua Michael Stern
Writer: Matt Whiteley
Stars: Ashton Kutcher, Dermot Mulroney, Josh Gad, Matthew Modine, J.K. Simmons
Not to be confused with the 2015 Michael Fassbender film ‘Steve Jobs” which I will review in good time and I decided to review the one that came first. This movie is the story of Steve Jobs’ rise from from a college dropout into one of the most creative entrepreneurs of the 20th century.
It has to be said that making a biopic about Steve Jobs is a great idea and you wonder why it took so long for a movie on his life to be made. Opening at the 2001 launch of the “IPod” with Ashton Kutcher is the title role as an older Steve Jobs was a neat way of hooking the audience into the movie and it also reminded our current selves that announcing a device you could fit in your pocket could store over 1,000 songs was a pretty big deal over 16 years ago. In the room the audience gasp at the reality of such a device. Just like we did back then.
The Filmmakers had a tremendous opportunity to make an interesting character based and informative movie about Steve Jobs who created ‘Apple” but instead used him as the presence of Apple’s story instead. It may appear nitpicking but I felt the movie should have been called “Apple” instead, but from what I have read the company had no input in the making of this movie at all.
“Jobs” quickly takes us back to the early seventies to where it all began. Don’t get me wrong, the movie is interesting to a point and having watched (and reviewed) the documentary about IBM a few months back “Silicon Valley” it was nice to see things from another perspective in the era of home computing from the major players.
I’ll be honest, apart from mainstream media attention I have to admit I didn’t know too much about Steve Jobs other than his “Apple” life story. I was interested into seeing his personal life and how he became one of the most powerful men in the technology world. This movie doesn’t do this and although the cast of Ashton Kutcher (Steve Jobs), Josh Gad (Steve Wozniak) JK Simmons (Arthur Rock), Dermot Mulroney (Mike Markkula) and Matthew Modine as John Sculley is very steady. The movie is more a time line of his life (to an extent) and the company.
This is where the problem lies with “Jobs” it isn’t sure what it is meant to be projecting as Jobs personal life is portrayed in bullet points and only skims the surface of the man and his personal problems. It also displays a lack of pace and the fluidity appears start / stop at times. I learned that he had a daughter Lisa that he denied for a very long time and it’s not until later on in the movie it appears he had a change of heart and a teenage Lisa is portrayed and in his life at this point. There was no emotional storytelling in relation to this or to others which I felt was a missed opportunity.
Away from these issues I learned more about the business side of Apple and Jobs relationship with his board and colleagues. Kutcher portrays him as best as he could and picks up some of the mans traits and mannerisms which I should give him credit for. Kutcher in my opinion isn’t the greatest actor in the word but his scenes with Josh Gad as Steve Wozniak were fun and lightened the story with humour between them. Josh Gad to me was the best thing in the movie and although I didn’t know much about Wozniak other than what most folk know about him through various interviews, this movie gave you an insight into what it was like to be Steve Jobs’ colleague, company partner and friend.
With a supporting cast of Mulroney, Simmons and Modine this is another saving grace to the film and particularly Mulroney’s portrayal of Mike Markkula who is the long suffering business partner of Jobs who endured some awkward moments throughout the film protecting Jobs in particular during the boardroom scenes that both Simmons and Modine excelled in.
Another positive throughout the movie is the soundtrack. From Cat Stevens’ “Peace Train” and Bob Dylan’s “Boots of Spanish Leather” to the brilliant “Life’s Been Good” by Joe Walsh which add to the era and fit well into the story.
In summary, if you wish to learn more about Steve Jobs I wouldn’t recommend getting that from this movie. That’s not to say it’s a bad film. “Jobs” is interesting enough to keep you entertained for a couple of hours and learn a few things about how “Apple” began in a garage and what it became today which is quite astonishing. Just don’t look for a deep thought provoking insight into one of the most brilliant minds of a generation.