by Michael Walters
The Cantankerous Critic
Ashton Kutcher plays Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in “Jobs,” a new movie that’s more book report than biopic.
The film mostly stays deep in Jobs’ past, hopscotching along major milestones in his and Apple Computers’ rise, while doing little to tie them together beyond aerial shots of Ashton Kutcher driving, or staring into the sky, laying in a field while high on LSD. It’s essentially an outline of his accomplishments, but we never get a chance to see and understand the man behind them.
By all accounts, Jobs was a technological visionary who was also a cold, uncompromising, and a grade A jerk to work for. One of his first bosses even says “Steve, you’re good, damn good, but you’re an a$$*@le.”
This is the one theme the movie comes back to again and again, so scenes of Jobs making leaps and bounds while turning Apple computer into a legitimate competitor to IBM are broken up by friends and associates telling him he’s changed, and he’s not the person they knew anymore.
Kutcher bears a physical resemblence to the late Apple co-founder, but he never grabs hold of what makes him tick. He’s got Jobs intensity, but he’s also prone to bouts of movie star scenery chewing that come across as cloying and phony.
Josh Gad fares much better as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (the technical genius whose smarts helped Apple get off the ground). He infuses Wozniak with despair and loss, as he sees the cool guy he was happy to just hang around with become distant, cold, and driven.
Last but not least, the film has absolutely no style. Director Joshua Michael Stern shoots every scene with the harsh lighting of a food court in a shopping mall. It’s competent, but drab.
Writer Aaron Sorkin (who did wonders with Mark Zuckerberg in “The Social Network”) is reportedly working on a Steve Jobs biopic as well. You’re better off waiting for something worthy of the big screen. Wait a few months, and you’ll see this one on TV, where it belonged in the first place.