When Steve Jobs died in 2011, he was a legend – an innovator in technology, an astute businessman, a hero among techies. With the rampant growth in popularity of Apple products in the past several years, it seems a shame that Jobs, chronicling the life of founder Steve Jobs, falls flat in so many respects.
The movie, directed by Joshua Michael Stern, follows Jobs’ journey from college dropout to tech mogul. Ashton Kutcher portrays the title character, and he manages to capture the innovator’s eccentricities.
Jobs’ story begins at Reed College where he is a dropout meandering around the campus. The plot picks up as Jobs and Steve Wozniak (Josh Gad) found Apple Computer Inc. Wozniak is depicted as the technical genius of the team.
The story picks up pace as Apple grows into a significant force in the computer industry. Disappointing sales, power struggles and resignations plague Jobs throughout the movie, each of which are woven together to create an interesting plot.
While the film does justice to both the remarkable accomplishments the technology industry has made and the people who pioneered them, the portrayals of various characters are somewhat two-dimensional. Jobs is portrayed as a flawed intellectual, a genius and an innovator, but this depiction adds little to what we already know.
The story is told entirely the way Jobs perceived the world. Unfortunately, this narrow viewing window means we never see others’ perspectives. For example, introducing the viewpoints of other significant characters, such as initial investor Mike Markkula or executive John Sculley would have added significantly to the story.
Too much time is spent showing Jobs arguing with monotone, undeveloped, suit-clad antagonists who essentially provide nothing to the viewer except a point of comparison that illustrates what an influential person Jobs was. Kutcher makes Jobs out to be a flawed character in many regards, such as his inability to tolerate co-workers who do not share his extreme vision for the company. Regardless, the viewer is never really given a taste of what other executives within Apple believe; instead they are depicted as simple villains and obstacles.
Despite some factual inaccuracies (such as Jobs’ cinematic firing of a worker who forgot to add fonts to their word processing software) and generally uninteresting side characters, Jobs’ story is fascinating. Apple fans and technology enthusiasts in general can gain something from the film, and Ashton Kutcher plays his role quite well. This is not a documentary; you will not see all sides of the story of Apple’s inception and growth. If anything, it is solely an exploration into the life of Steve Jobs.
Jobs is rated PG-13 and runs 122 minutes.