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Jobs Review: A Movie About a Titan Starring a Tit

By Dustin Rowles | Film Reviews | August 16, 2013 | Comments ()


kutcher-jobs-comparison.jpg

There’s a great movie to be made about the life of Steve Jobs, but Jobs is not it. The primary challenge in making a film about the co-founder of Apple is finding an actor who can play an overtly cerebral, egomaniacal dick, but a dick for whom you want to root. Besides a striking resemblance to the young Steve Jobs, Ashton Kutcher is a terrible choice: There’s nothing about his character that makes you want to root for him, and all of his attempts to depict Jobs as a dick are layered in frat-boy douchebaggery. He’s an actor doing an impression, rather than inhabiting a character, and rather than earn the audience’s sympathy through his performance, the director takes shortcuts with a soaring, crescendo-heavy score to denote when we’re supposed to feel something for Jobs. There is never a moment in Jobs when you don’t think it’s the guy from Punk’d attempting to play arguably the most important figure in technology over the past 30 years, an almost ironic injustice to the late Steve Jobs, who deserves a Cranston-like actor to illustrate what an asshole genius the man was.

Putting Kutcher’s performance aside, the story also collapses under its own breadth. Where Aaron Sorkin in the Social Network limited the scope of his film to the two or three years it took to transform Facebook from a dating website at Harvard to a billion dollar social network, screenwriter Matt Whiteley covers a considerably larger timeline, from the time Jobs dropped out of college in 1974 until he launched the iPod in 2001. In doing so, he only covers the broad strokes — Jobs acid-induced epiphany, his trip to India, his partnership with Steven Wozniak, and the rise and fall and rise again of Apple, with Jobs in and out as CEO. Whitely and Swing Vote director Joshua Michael Stern substitute the events on the Jobs’ timeline for character development, illustrating Jobs’ assholery through yelling matches with employees and board members, but never making us understand why Jobs is a guy that commanded the respect and admiration of so many.

Jobs is the kind of made-for-television type of biopic more concerned with hitting all the notes than it is in actually making music. It’s a two-hour montage, a museum tour through the life of Steve Jobs with Ashton Kutcher narrating, taking pains to emphasize the name of every new character introduced as though winking to the knowing viewers in the audience, “This is … Mike Markkula, who you already know is going to be the CEO of Apple in five years, right?” I don’t really know anymore about Steve Jobs and Apple Computers now than I did going into the movie (except for the child he disowned, which is glossed over), but I do know that Ashton Kutcher does a pretty good job of mimicking the walk of Steve Jobs, though it doesn’t really inform the character in any way. The entire movie is basically a two-hour Wikipedia entry, unsatisfyingly thin for those who want insights into the innovator, and decidedly lifeless for anyone who wants to be entertained. It is a boring failure.



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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • dizzylucy

    Even the commercials for this have made me cringe. There's something so awkward about it.
    A physical resemblance can be faked, but a good performance cannot.

  • The Saint

    'The primary challenge in making a film about the co-founder of Apple is finding an actor who can play an overtly cerebral, egomaniacal dick, but a dick for whom you want to root.'

    Christian Bale. Nuff said.

    (Are you listening, Aaron Sorkin?)...

  • Aidan Harr

    I'll wait for the Aaron Sorkin one.

  • Uriah_Creep

    Wilma Flintstone. What a hottie! Betty Rubble wasn't bad either.

    ETA: goddammit, I managed to put this in the wrong thread. Ignore me, I may be somewhat impaired.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    What I want to see is about Jobs as portrayed by Colm Feore doing his marketing guru stint on Season 2 of Slings & Arrows.

  • e jerry powell

    No reason that shouldn't happen.

  • Mrs. Julien

    That headline needs to go on one of the fake movie posters you make.

  • Strand

    It seems like they picked Ashton Kutcher for his physical resemblance and that was about it. Every time the guy opens his mouth, I can't not think of Kelso.

  • meadowdancer

    He screeched through the whole movie. I did not see Steve Jobs when I saw that movie, I saw Ashton Kutcher acting badly.

  • kirbyjay

    Do you think Kutcher was counting on accolades for his performance and God willing, some type of nomination? An awful lot of actors think they are better than they really are. I guess that comes with the fame monster. " I'm famous, I made it, I must be good"

  • e jerry powell

    Is it me, or did Kutcher put on weight around the middle for this?

  • Some Guy

    "Where Aaron Sorkin in the Social Network limited the scope of his film to the two or three years it took to transform Facebook from a dating website at Harvard to a billion dollar social network, screenwriter Matt Whiteley covers a considerably larger timeline..."

    I understand the point you're making: that that movie tries to cover the entire breadth of Jobs' career with Apple, from inception to Ipod, but let's be fair here: It took 30 years to come up with that Ipod.

    The Facebook story is perfectly tailored to a smaller window simply because Facebook was conceived, designed and implemented in a scant few years years. Nothing much has changed philosophically or technically with the product since its inception other than minor upgrades.

    Here's the challenge though: when Apple Computers, the company, is older than the founder of Facebook, where do you start/finish that small window of story to really show the impact that Jobs had with Apple?

    By the way, does anyone know where I can watch Pirates of Silicon Valley on the internet?

  • Martin Holterman

    Why do you think that "the impact that Jobs had with Apple" should be the point of the movie? It's a movie, not a History channel documentary.

  • It's a biopic. About the biggest name in Apple. That is pretty much what people are going in to see. What ELSE would be the point, pray tell?

  • Martin Holterman

    That's an issue I have with biopics in general: if they are to be interesting as art, instead of being glorified, over-budget history channel productions, there has to be a point to them other than "Hey, there's this guy and this is what happened to him!"

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Ah, I have written a few plays on historical subjects, and this is something I struggle with. (and the mantra in my head is always don't-be-a-history-channel-special-don't-be-a-history-channel-special In fact, I'm working on one right now.

    Yes, I think they need to be more - they do need to be art. When I research these plays, I come across all these historical tidbits. Oooh, isn't that fascinating, I think. Oh, that's a neat gem I didn't know. And I try to tell someone. I am generally met with blank stare or shrug. A *fact* is only interesting, only worthwhile, to people who are invested in the other facts about that fact. A "truth" is about human experience - and that has the potential to be interesting to everyone. The biopics that succeed give us some truth along with facts (and often they are not so hard & fast with the facts).

  • L.O.V.E.

    The people who this would ordinarily be marketed to, the people most interested in Steve Jobs, are going to take one look at who was cast to play Jobs and dismiss this outright. That may be unfair to Kutcher and the people behind this movie who seem to be earnest, but if they were tone deaf enough to cast Kutcher for this role it doesn't portend well for their ability to truly capture the magnitude and essence of Jobs.

    Its interesting, though, that you reference Cranston, who just a few years ago could just have easily been dismissed as nothing more than a sit-com actor. The difference is that we have seen enough of Mr. The Butterfly Effect to know his range is limited to Mr. Chips. He'll never be Scarface.

  • MrFrye

    "It is a boring, failure."

    In the flip-side of the Oxford comma, should we call this the Greendale Community College comma?

  • kushiro -

    I understood it. Dustin is telling someone named failure that the film is a boring.

  • pajiba

    EXACTLY.

    Failure is my homeboy.

  • MrFrye

    You're besties with failure? That's very forthcoming of you, Dustin.

    Don't sell yourself short. I'm sure you and failure are just casual acquaintances. *I-don't-know-how-to-make-emoticons-so-imagine-this-is-thumbs-up*

  • Theron

    Witty at first but now you're trying too hard to be funny and the magic is all gone. It actually became painful.

  • MrFrye

    No fair, you fixed it!

    And I was all witty and everything!

  • the other courtney

    "The entire movie is basically a two-hour Wikipedia entry"
    THANK YOU. I couldn't describe that, that, THAT. (Now 'that' doesn't seem like a word...). But this I why I come to pajiba.

  • jytaqetizah

    мy coυѕιɴ ιѕ мαĸιɴɢ $51/нoυr oɴlιɴe. υɴeмployed ғor α coυple oғ yeαrѕ αɴd prevιoυѕ yeαr ѕнe ɢoт α $1З619cнecĸ wιтн oɴlιɴe joв ғor α coυple oғ dαyѕ. ѕee мore αт...­ ­ViewMore----------------------...

    Its interesting, though, that you reference Cranston, who just a few
    years ago could just have easily been dismissed as nothing more than a
    sit-com actor. The difference is that we have seen enough of Mr. The
    Butterfly Effect to know his range is limited to Mr. Chips. He'll never
    be Scarface.

  • This guy is awesome.

  • MrFrye

    "The difference is that we have seen enough of Mr. The
    Butterfly Effect to know his range is limited to Mr. Chips. He'll never be Scarface."

    You gotta love it when the spam-bots try to convince us they can speak English.

  • RilesSD

    Comment was deleted, but sounds like a reference to the skills of Bryan Cranston, taking Walter White from Mr. Chips to Scarface. That's how Vince Gilligan pitched it to AMC.

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