Reviewed by Kevin Finnerty
“We’ve got to make the small things unforgettable,” says Steve Jobs (Ashton Kutcher) to a group of his programmers, trying to motivate them to strive for excellence in his company Apple in the dramatic film Jobs.
After dropping out of college and trying to work for Atari but not really being able to find anything he’s really good at that challenges him, Jobs finally finds his calling one day while visiting his best friend Steve Wozniak (Josh Gad) and seeing his hobby of a keyboard hooked up to a television screen which displays what Steve is working on. Fascinated by his friend’s first attempt at making a computer, Jobs – along with Wozniak – set to work in his father’s garage, making calls to get orders for their new computer from their brand new company titled Apple.
Things really begin to take off for Jobs and Wozniak when a professional businessman and investor Mike Markkula (Dermot Mulroney) meet with them and offer a $90,000 dollar investment to partner up, a partnership that will change the landscape of technology for all time.
After the huge success of the Mac2, Jobs becomes determined to make only the best and most cutting-edge computers, always pushing the limits of what is possible. That creates tension between himself, his employees, and the company’s board who always seems to be looking for an excuse or reason to find a way to push Jobs out of the company he created.
Inspired by the career and accomplishments of Steve Jobs, Jobs is a film that portrays the visionary entrepreneur as both a creative and shrewd businessman and as a cold, self-absorbed, controlling and self-destructive bastard. Ashton Kutcher delivers the best performance of his career as Jobs, capturing his walk, style and at times awkwardness. It’s clear he took the role seriously and delivers a solid performance. Dermot Mulroney is very effective as Markkula, Jobs’ partner at Apple who does as much as he can to protect Jobs from the board who are always looking for a way to strip Jobs of any power. Josh Gad is perfect as Steve Wozniak, Jobs’ best friend who without Jobs would never have been able to build the company Apple and his early computers. Kutcher and Gad have strong chemistry and the best scenes in the film are with these two.
Jobs does have a few problems though. The pacing of the film is uneven and the entire first 20 minutes with Jobs hanging out at college after he has already dropped out and getting high with his girlfriend and friends is a complete waste of time. It’s unnecessary and boring exposition to the beginning of the real story of how a slacker and his buddy became two of the most influential people in the technical world in the 20th century, and that segment of the movie should have ended up on the cutting room floor.
Jobs is also too repetitive, using again and again scenes of a shot of the back of Steve Jobs’ head following him has he walks through the corridors of the offices of Apple with employees poking their heads out and looking. It’s as though director Joshua Michael Stern wants the audience to get a sense of what it feels like to BE Jobs…and it fails miserably.
Too long and uneven, Jobs is a film that never really delves deep into discovering what drove the visionary businessman towards excellence (other than by having Kutcher as Jobs say,“I want to make Apple cool again”) and delivers a surface and half-empty portrayal of a creative, complex, incredibly original and driven visionary. The 1999 TNT made-for-TV movie The Pirates of Silicon Valley starring Noah Wyle as Steve Jobs is superior to this big screen attempt.
Jobs opens in theaters on August 16, 2013 and is rated PG-13 for some drug content and brief strong language.
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