It could be argued that Steve Jobs was the Leonardo da Vinci of our time. Whether you’re an Apple geek like I am or a Windows/Android user, Jobs’ innovations have influenced your life in one way or another. His position in pop culture as a visionary and the ultimate salesman were solidified by his keynote presentations for revolutionary products like the iPod, iPhone and iPad. So why does such a fascinating figure get such a lame movie?
Unfortunately, Jobs is about as far from the groundbreaking, innovative Apple vibe as you can get. Instead of something fresh and fascinating a la The Social Network, it brings us a trite, sentimental, plotless look at the most interesting man in the tech world. Rife with plot holes and pointless montages, the film is basically comprised of a series of boardroom meetings and hindsight jokes so obvious Jay Leno could have written them. “Nobody’s wants to buy a computer.” OMG! How hilarious! Because it’s 2013 and everybody owns a computer! That’s so witty!
While the early days of Apple are important to the story, there was so much more to Jobs’ life post-1996, and we don’t even get a glimpse at that. The film opens with Jobs introducing the iPod, and never loops back around to show us the Golden Age of Apple’s iDevices. Yes, the Mac was a game changer and notorious Apple failures like the Lisa are worth noting, but come on! The iPod revolutionized music, the iPhone became the most popular smartphone on the planet and the iPad singlehandedly created a market for tablets. None of those things even deserve a mention?!
Instead, we get a boring series of scenes that don’t seem to be joined together by any causal relationship. Trey Parker once said that in screenwriting, all your scenes should be joined together by “but” or “therefore” as opposed to “and then”. One scene needs to lead into another for a reason. In Jobs, we get shots of a young, shoeless Jobs on campus in the 1970s, a random acid trip montage, his enlightening trip to India, him seeing the potential in Steve Wozniak’s inventions, the founding of Apple, the subsequent ousting of Jobs and his triumphant return, but the scenes are presented without any real through plot. His trip to India was important and influential, but why? He was adopted and that profoundly influenced him, but how? By the end, we’re left with more questions—and the desire to read a biography or watch a documentary that will actually cover the details of Jobs’ life.
Ashton Kutcher is surprisingly good as Jobs, though he lacks that trademark charisma that made you believe the man could sell a ketchup popsicle to a woman in white gloves. Josh Gad brings heart to the film with his portrayal of Wozniak as a genuinely good guy who wasn’t concerned with corporate takeovers and just wanted to make a great product. But, good performances can’t save a film with so little character development and the lack of an overall story arc. Case in point, we show Jobs denying paternity of his daughter, Lisa, then him naming a computer after her, then him fighting over child support, then teenage Lisa sleeping on his couch like one big, happy family. Um, what happened in between all that stuff? You’d think there were some pretty interesting moments in there somewhere, but instead of exploring that, let’s just show a bunch of executives squabbling with each other.
As an Apple fangirl, I was beyond disappointed to see them suck the charisma right out of this fascinating man. Jobs’ legacy is barely explored—seriously, less than three minutes of the entire film—and, aside from a brief conversation with designer Jonathan Ive (played quite convincingly by Giles Matthey) we see nothing of Jobs’ overall philosophy or grand vision. I can only hope that the upcoming Jobs biopic, penned by The Social Network’s Aaron Sorkin, will give us the Jobs we all remember.