Jobs starts awkwardly. Ashton Kutcher, made up to look like Steve Jobs in 2001, does what amounts to a bad late night TV skit impression of the staff meeting where the iPod is revealed, internally, for the first time. That's your warning. Proceed at your own risk.
What follows is a rather linear progression of Jobs' life from Reed College to his ouster at Apple, and then after a brief montage, his return leading up to the release of the iMac. That's not a great structure, leading with the iPod and never returning to it, running up to the iMac and not landing on its release.
Within those timelines there are moments of charm. When Kutcher relaxes out of his Jobs impression and just lets the work flow, the whole thing coalesces and actually works really well. But those moments are sadly few and far between, and almost always interrupted by a disturbing walk, slouch, or gesture. He seems to care a great deal, and to want to try really hard, and maybe that's the problem with the performance. Embodying a character in film often has little to do with aping them in real life.
The dialog, much of it drawn from the collective history and mythology of Jobs and Apple is fine. They hit all the sound bites and catch phrases. They also show Jobs doing drugs, lamenting his adoption, annoying the Atari employees, denying his early parental responsibilities, being unnecessarily mean to those who others would have considered his friends, and all the other widely reported negative personality traits and behaviors ascribed to him over the years. How all of that is weighted against his lifelong drive to make computers into ever-more accessible, more elegant appliances isn't always well balanced, or arguably not even accurately portrayed.
There's also very little of Jobs relationship to Bill Gates and Microsoft here, though that was the focus of Pirates of Silicon Valley. There's nothing from the iPod to iPhone or iPad. That means no exploration of Jobs relationship to his birth family, nothing of his health issues, nothing of his relationship with Eric Schmidt and Google. And while there's a few minutes with Jony Ive, there's nothing with Phil Schiller or Tim Cook. And what we get of Woz is as much comic relief as engineering wizard.
You can't fit an entire life, much less the life of someone as transformative as Steve Jobs into a movie, but you can pick your beginning and end points, and your beats, and you can draw them into an arc that may not show everything, but at least tells a narrative of the person beyond the events.
Whether Jobs is ultimately a passionate, if brutish homage to a modern technological hero, or valiant if overly fetishized tribute in search of a movie is hard to say.
It isn't terrible, and as cable TV fare, it's passable. But I didn't think it was a good movie (objectively) and I didn't like it much (subjectively), even though I'm keenly interested in the subject matter. Unless you have an incredible thirst to see anything and everything Apple or Steve Jobs as quickly as you can, save a few bucks and catch it when it hits the streaming services.
Jobs is in theaters now.
If you've seen Jobs, go leave your review in the iMore movie forums and we'll post the best bits right here on the Home page in our community review follow up!
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