It’s admirable in its ambition, but “Jobs” ultimately falters by over-glorifying the Apple founder’s success and failures in an uneven attempt at storytelling writes FMR’s Justin Sedgwick.
Directed by Joshua Michael Stern (2013)
Biographical films are tough cookies to crack, especially when the subjects themselves are larger than life. The ones that are successful focus only on a particular segment of that person’s timeline, as 2012’s “Lincoln” did in evaluating America’s greatest president during his attempt to end the Civil War. Failed autobiographies though oversimplify their subject to the point of caricature, where there is so much ground to cover that it’s impossible to elaborate on all the complexities that compose that subject in 120 minutes. “Jobs” is in that vein: it magnificently shoots for the stars, but ultimately falls in the dust.
“Jobs” begins with Steve (Ashton Kutcher) as a scraggly college student, strolling across campus without a care or proper orthotic support. He speaks poetic bits of idealistic lore about the world and the nature of things that lure females into his bed without effort. Clearly the film is telling us is that Steve is a wunderkind genius, a diamond in the rough and that we should give undivided attention to everything that he has to say. Steve runs to his buddy Steve Wozniak’s ( Josh Gad) house and discovers the personal computer he has been building as a hobby. Jobs is inspired, and the duo form the Apple computer company that draws the attention of investor Mike Markkula ( Dermot Mulroney). The team struggles but turns successful, and Jobs’ stubborn attitude continues clashes with anyone within a 50 foot radius of him.
The film is accurate in detailing that Jobs’ was, well, a complete asshole. But its structure is so lopsided that it doesn’t tell a story so much as display 7-8 motivational short films as if they were grouped together in a discount podcast bundle. Steve achieves massive success which leads to spectacular failure, over and over again. Kutcher mistakenly tries to portray the idea of Steve Jobs rather than the person himself. Gad’s performance as Woz is excellent even though he’s so scarcely used throughout the film. And the whole subplot of Steve’s abandonment of his daughter is one of the film’s most intriguing elements that is quickly abandoned for some more self-congratulatory Apple bullshit. Director Joshua Michael Stern knew he had a time limit in telling the expansive story of Steve Jobs. Too bad he decided to cut out all the good parts.
“Jobs” would’ve been better if it just focused on one particular event in the Apple founder’s life, whether it be the development of the Macintosh or the unveiling of the iPhone. That way the film could’ve focused more on the people making the products rather than the company behind them. “Jobs” failure resembles that of one of his many failed products, looking towards the future with grand ambition without the patience and timing to see things through in the present. Perhaps that failure is poetic and adds another metaphorical layer to “Jobs”. Too bad when you peel those layers back there’s nothing at the apple’s core.