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Review: Jobs

Aug. 15, 2013by: Eric Walkuski

PLOT: The story of Steve Jobs, the difficult genius who founded Apple, had it taken away from him, then won it back.

REVIEW: JOBS is a moderately engaging but unenlightening biopic done in broad strokes; a by-the-numbers look at a man who was anything but. Sometimes it feels as if the film is reaching for THE SOCIAL NETWORKs heights of stylishly dramatizing a technological revolution while examining the complex, frustrating figure behind it, but both the films director and star arent quite up to the task.

Ashton Kutcher, you probably know, plays Steve Jobs. Its an acceptable performance of little range; neither a home run nor an embarrassment. Based on his portrayal, were led to believe that Jobs - at the height of his innovation - only had two modes: calm determination and irrational anger. I have to believe that was not the case with the actual man, but director Joshua Michael Stern and Kutcher dont necessarily plumb the depths of the mans psyche to our satisfaction; we never really understand what makes him tick, we just know that he ticks loudly.

Intriguingly enough, Kutcher isnt really miscast, at least not in the films early passages, where Jobs, recently dropped out of college, is depicted as an arrogant cad who cheats on his girlfriend, takes drugs and doesnt play well with others. As a technician at Atari, Jobs feels well above the rest of his colleagues, intent on starting his own business and being his own boss. He ultimately enlists friend and fellow genius Steve Wozniak (a very good Josh Gad) to help him design a personal computer, perfunctorily calling it the Apple and embarking on a mission to put one of these things in every home in the world.

Jobs and Wozniak work out of their garage with a ragtag bunch, building motherboards and seeking money to found a corporation. Theyre eventually found by Mike Markkula (Dermot Mulroney), an investor who used to work at Intel. Markkula is able to get the guys started with a sizable amount of money, which leads to the creation of the Apple II.

JOBS then skips forward quite a bit to where Apple is already the second biggest computer company in the world. (It actually might have been interesting to see how exactly it reached that height, but the movie impatiently wants to get to the SOCIAL NETWORK-esque backstabbing stuff.) We see Jobs toils over risky failures (the Apple Lisa of the mid-80s, Apples biggest disaster) and confront the authority he so disdains. He now has a board of investors to deal with (led by the always reliable J.K. Simmons) and a CEO who gets too big for his britches (Matthew Modine). Hes eventually pushed out of his company by these entities, but the impact of that isnt felt very strongly because we first watch as Jobs rather dismissively denies a piece of the company to the very friends who helped him found it. (Wozniak remains by his side, but we can tell from his mournful glances at Steve that hes disappointed in the mans actions.)

JOBS deserves credit for refusing to sugarcoat its subjects temperamental nature: the Steve Jobs we see here is not a very nice person; he dresses down employees in public, he throws his former best friend (Lukas Haas) by the wayside, and at one point he refuses to acknowledge the existence of his own daughter. Kutcher is able to make the mans rather surprising ugliness come to life in the most intense scenes, where he very deliberately and sternly makes someone feel like crap, and the actor has also obviously worked very hard to mimic some of Jobs physical traits, like his lurching walk or the way he folds his hands.

That said, he doesnt disappear into the character. This is especially true during the third act, when Jobs has several moments of tearful resignation, and they're simply unconvincing. Kutcher, try as he might, just cant rise to the occasion of making us believe hes crying or having an epiphany.

But Kutchers performance aside, JOBS still cant make the man any clearer to us at the end of the day; it certainly doesn't make him a sympathetic figure. The movies Rise and Fall and Rise Again structure is to be expected, but exactly who was Jobs and why did he act this way? Theres a brief mention of the fact that he was adopted, but thats not sufficient. THE SOCIAL NETWORK made a case for Mark Zuckerbergs severe inferiority complex and petty jealousy, but JOBS never cracks the mystery of the Macs creator. That holds the film back more than Kutchers limited performance.

Source: JoBlo.com

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9:05PM on 08/16/2013
Whenever I realize that I have a genius friend whom I can't con to do my bidding, I always feel like a failed Steve Jobs.
Whenever I realize that I have a genius friend whom I can't con to do my bidding, I always feel like a failed Steve Jobs.
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7:49PM on 08/16/2013

I liked it, but that score is about right.

Such a shame. While I didn't hate the movie, I feel like for a visionary like Steve Jobs, it was a hugely missed opportunity. It felt entirely phoned-in, and the only thing that made me stay interested was that I'm a sucker for movies about technological innovations, and I also really respect Steve Jobs so I enjoyed watching him on the big-screen.

The music was cheesy as hell. If a single detail makes this movie feel like made-for-television, it is the nasty score. Cheesy and uninspired.
Such a shame. While I didn't hate the movie, I feel like for a visionary like Steve Jobs, it was a hugely missed opportunity. It felt entirely phoned-in, and the only thing that made me stay interested was that I'm a sucker for movies about technological innovations, and I also really respect Steve Jobs so I enjoyed watching him on the big-screen.

The music was cheesy as hell. If a single detail makes this movie feel like made-for-television, it is the nasty score. Cheesy and uninspired. The rest of the movie was uninspired but not quite to the level of cheesiness that the music attains.

I don't understand the hate for Ashton Kutcher, though... I honestly feel like he was perfect. The voice took a little adjusting, but after the opening scene, I was into him. He was great. Not sure why his performance is being labeled as mediocre at best :

I didn't like the fact that they open the film on the conference reveal of the original iPod, but basically end the movie on the colorful Macintosh. That made no sense to me. I thought it would make a lot more sense if they started the movie with the reveal of the colorful Mac, and then the scene with a certain visual designer would have had a lot more impact.

It didn't feel like the movie was being made with love and care. It felt phoned-in, and I can think of literally no scenes that were exemplary and justification for artistic integrity. It was so standard and okay that it was mundane and banal. The running time was also quite long, as the way the movie is written it felt like I was in there for four hours as opposed to two.

Despite my negative thoughts, I still thought it was a positive experience at the theater, but Steve Jobs deserved something so much more profound and interesting. :( In a world with The Social Network being an outstanding film in all respects, Jobs looks like its cheap direct-to-DVD ugly cousin.

Totally agree with the JoBlo score on this one.
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12:05PM on 08/16/2013

I Knew It

Knew this would suck since I saw the trailer. Its clearly made with the Social Network in mind but in no way can anyone involved (except Simmons who is too good for this movie) match that caliber of storytelling, writing, or acting. Kutcher isn't miscast when hes playing an arrogant asshole drugged-up college drop out, who would have guessed.
Knew this would suck since I saw the trailer. Its clearly made with the Social Network in mind but in no way can anyone involved (except Simmons who is too good for this movie) match that caliber of storytelling, writing, or acting. Kutcher isn't miscast when hes playing an arrogant asshole drugged-up college drop out, who would have guessed.
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7:23PM on 08/15/2013
Steve Jobs deserves a movie about him, thats better then this...sometimes we keep thinking that Kutcher will eventually become a decent actor, but this project hasnt pulled him out of that "bad actor" zone yet...but he isnt all to blame either...the movie itself is bad and should have been a TV movie instead.
Steve Jobs deserves a movie about him, thats better then this...sometimes we keep thinking that Kutcher will eventually become a decent actor, but this project hasnt pulled him out of that "bad actor" zone yet...but he isnt all to blame either...the movie itself is bad and should have been a TV movie instead.
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6:11PM on 08/15/2013

Worst casting ever.

Ashton Kutcher only knows how to play one character: Ashton Kutcher. And he does it poorly...
I'm not even an Apple fan and I think Jobs deserved better than this.
Ashton Kutcher only knows how to play one character: Ashton Kutcher. And he does it poorly...
I'm not even an Apple fan and I think Jobs deserved better than this.
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5:32PM on 08/15/2013

A major disappointment

Someday there will be a great movie about Steve Jobs; clearly this ain't it. And, Eric, from your review it sounds like you're trying to politely say, "Ashton Kutcher doesn't have the chops for this role."
Someday there will be a great movie about Steve Jobs; clearly this ain't it. And, Eric, from your review it sounds like you're trying to politely say, "Ashton Kutcher doesn't have the chops for this role."
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2:58PM on 08/15/2013
For some reason, I may be wrong, but this film seemed rushed to get out so it could be the next "Social Network."
For some reason, I may be wrong, but this film seemed rushed to get out so it could be the next "Social Network."
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5:11PM on 08/15/2013
I could see that.
I could see that.
1:49PM on 08/15/2013
Jared Leto would have been the perfect choice. Not only does he have the physical resemblance but he's also an absolutely fantastic actor. Ashton Kutcher was a horrible choice.
Jared Leto would have been the perfect choice. Not only does he have the physical resemblance but he's also an absolutely fantastic actor. Ashton Kutcher was a horrible choice.
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12:04PM on 08/15/2013

In all fairness

Zuckerman claims that the scenes that showed his "severe inferiority complex and petty jealousy" were bullshit: he did, in fact, have a girlfriend at Harvard and he eventually married her. It works in the context of the movie though. Sometimes the real story isn't the interesting one.
Zuckerman claims that the scenes that showed his "severe inferiority complex and petty jealousy" were bullshit: he did, in fact, have a girlfriend at Harvard and he eventually married her. It works in the context of the movie though. Sometimes the real story isn't the interesting one.
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+7
11:55AM on 08/15/2013

Just because you look the part...

This is simply another case of wrongful casting, I don't care who the hell plays the character as long as they embody who that person was. It could be Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, or hell Kate Winslet for all I care as long as I'm convinced this is who Steve Jobs was and this was his demeanor in life. There was a large bank on Ashton Kutcher simply looking the part. The man can't act a lick, yet they somehow felt he would be able to evolve as an actor and nail this role? Try as he might,
This is simply another case of wrongful casting, I don't care who the hell plays the character as long as they embody who that person was. It could be Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, or hell Kate Winslet for all I care as long as I'm convinced this is who Steve Jobs was and this was his demeanor in life. There was a large bank on Ashton Kutcher simply looking the part. The man can't act a lick, yet they somehow felt he would be able to evolve as an actor and nail this role? Try as he might, he's just the stoner from That 70's Show.
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+9
11:36AM on 08/15/2013
This had 'made-for-tv' movie written all over it. Especially given the painful way Kutchner randomly pauses and emphasizes weird words and syllables when he talks.
This had 'made-for-tv' movie written all over it. Especially given the painful way Kutchner randomly pauses and emphasizes weird words and syllables when he talks.
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10:44AM on 08/15/2013
So, to clarify, this movie keeps Kutcher in movie jail, right?
So, to clarify, this movie keeps Kutcher in movie jail, right?
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10:38AM on 08/15/2013
I always cringe when biopics get anything less than an 8. It's just awkward when your effort at playing someone else who happens to be (or used to be) very real doesn't work out. There's just something overly embarrassing about it, to me at least.
I always cringe when biopics get anything less than an 8. It's just awkward when your effort at playing someone else who happens to be (or used to be) very real doesn't work out. There's just something overly embarrassing about it, to me at least.
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10:29AM on 08/15/2013

I'd said it before

Ashton Kutcher can only play Ashton Kutcher.
Ashton Kutcher can only play Ashton Kutcher.
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