Ashton Kutcher, Dermot Mulroney, J.K. Simmons, James Woods, Josh Gad, Lesley Anne Warren, Lukas Haas, Matthew Modine, Ron Eldard
Joshua Michael Stern
Open Road Films
There's nothing particularly wrong with the Steve Jobs biopic Jobs starring Ashton Kutcher. In fact, Kutcher gives a surprisingly engaging performance as the late Apple visionary and techno-cultural geek icon.
It's not so much that there's a "problem" with the film as it is that Jobs feels like it would have been more at home on the small screen than it is roaming around cineplexes for whatever measly amount of time it manages to stick around. There's little doubt that the Open Road Films distributed film will find a much longer life on home video than it will enjoy on the big screen mostly because this simply isn't a story that people will feel the need to rush out and see.
As a man, Jobs was an interesting guy and a master salesman. As a human being and as the subject for a film, he's not particularly compelling and Jobs, in particular, seems content to paint a shiny gloss on his many foibles while never digging deeper into the psyche' of a man who espoused Zen Buddhism while never really becoming one with anything but technology and a massive fortune. What we see is a man who peeled off his friends like he was peeling a potato yet still managed to surround himself with those who could best be called loyal devotees who embraced his sense of purpose while never really getting to know him as a man.
Working from a script by first-time writer Matt Whiteley, Jobs covers the period from his college days through to his successful return to helming Apple. The film gives major presence to Steve Wozniak (Josh Gad), arguably the brains behind Jobs's marketing mastery. While on the surface Kutcher may have seemed an odd choice to play Jobs, it's hard to deny that Kutcher himself is far smarter than most people give him credit for and he clearly has a comprehension of the world in which Jobs worked and lived. Himself one of the more social media savvy celebs, Kutcher manages to infuse his performance with that sort of glossy, market friendly sheen that Jobs presented even as cancer had begun taking over his body.
Unfortunately, one has the distinct feeling that Jobs himself would have been particularly unimpressed with Jobs the movie. Whereas Jobs always committed himself to creating soul-feeding technology as a thing of beauty, it's hard not to believe that he'd have watched this film and thought to himself it seems more suited to the mere competence of a company along the lines of IBM. Jobs would have expected more and, quite honestly, more is what was needed to justify the film's entry into movie theaters.
Jobs isn't a bad film. It's just a film that can wait until you can catch it on Netflix.
Steve Jobs would have hated that.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic