Director: Joshua Michael Stern
Screenwriter: Matt Whiteley
Runtime: 128 mins.
Australian release date: 29 August 2013
There are some human beings who have great vision and a desire to change the world and that’s the way the founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, is portrayed in the bio-pic Jobs, directed by Joshua Michael Stern. Jobs is ably portrayed by Ashton Kutcher, but, overall, the film disappoints because it doesn’t actually reveal much more than a man who spends a large part of his life seeking revenge on those who he feels have betrayed him or not worked as hard as he has.
The film commences with Jobs’ early days in the 1960s, when he was a college drop-out who never wore shoes and didn’t bother to bathe regularly, but his eccentricity didn’t get in the way of his brilliant mind. It was the early days of computers when ‘geeks’ with vision were being recruited to advance technology. Jobs had the foresight to see the ability in others and recruited a college mate, Steve Wozniak (Josh Gad), to help him complete the design for an integrated processor and keyboard that could be marketed not just to businesses but to homes… voila! the personal computer was born. This led to bigger and more complex enterprises and the formation of Apple, and the rest, as they say, is history.
As the company grew, so did the egos and the problems; problems that were exacerbated when Jobs recruited the Pepsi marketing whizz John Sculley (Matthew Modine). This appointment contributed to a boardroom take-over of the company and the removal of Jobs from the position of CEO… and Jobs’ subsequent years of resentment as he developed the unrelenting desire to step back into his role as the head of the company he created and ‘get’ those responsible for his dismissal.
Kutcher delivers one of his best roles to date. He seems to channel Jobs down to the minutest detail, including his walk, a robotic shuffle. The movie has a strong soundtrack adding to a believable sense of time and place (San Francisco’s San Fernando Valley standing in for LA’s Silicon Valley), but Matt Whiteley’s debut screenplay doesn’t deliver - you leave the cinema feeling that somehow a large chunk of this man’s life was simply ignored. There’s no explanation for Jobs’ drive, no justification to shed light on his calculated coldness. His parents appear briefly but they are mere ghosts, with no flesh and blood. For all intents and purposes, Jobs had a fairly normal, happy, middle-class Southern Californian upbringing, so why the anger?
After a muscular opening scene, showing Jobs launch the I-pod to a rapt audience, the film nosedives into nothingness. It clearly shows that here was a prophet with a special vision but we are left to wonder where it came from and whether it would have been better to put the price of admission towards buying the eponymous book.