Movie Review: 'Jobs' -- 2.5 stars
Directed by Joshua Michael Stern
Starring Ashton Kutcher, Josh Gad, Dermot Mulroney
Ashton Kutcher, star of the new biopic "Jobs," has taken to calling Steve Jobs the "Da Vinci of our time" in press interviews. There couldn't be a more apt description of the late Apple visionary.
Now more than ever, the company he founded in his parents' garage looms large in the global conscience. And it's not just the personal computer: Recent innovations such as the iPhone, iPod and iPad have changed the world.
So it's strange that Joshua Michael Stern's film turns Jobs' story into the glum plight of a miserable man, unhappy at work and a nonentity at home. The resistance to hagiography is admirable and there's plenty of real-life testimony regarding Jobs' hard-driving peevishness. But there had to be more to the icon than the lasting image here: An intense man parking in a handicapped spot and charging through the Apple offices, with no time for personal relationships.
Kutcher does his level best to capture the "other Jobs," conveying that kindly twinkle we remember from footage of product launches and interviews, the entrepreneurial spirit that could so poetically convey the company's revolutionary goal of producing technology that is an extension of the self. He nails Jobs' trademark speeches, though Matt Whiteley's screenplay overdoses on those declamations.
There are moments of genuine discovery sprinkled throughout the two-hour-plus running time, especially when Kutcher's Jobs, Josh Gad's Steve Wozniak and a ragtag team of misfits perfect the first Apple computer.
But the film mostly focuses on Jobs' rough initial stint at Apple, in which the success of the Apple II and the company's IPO, not to mention the innovative Lisa and Macintosh, couldn't prevent a power struggle with the older and more conventionally-minded board of directors. The portrait is convincing but amounts to transforming a story's footnote into its primary drama.
In other words, "Jobs" is obsessed with boardroom politics in the '70s and '80s when it should be centered on the thrill of innovation. The movie misses its shot at emotional resonance by practically ignoring its subject's extraordinary return to the company, where he transformed a floundering corporation into the dominant institution it is today, shepherding a series of products that have become like family to billions of consumers worldwide.