Late to the Party Movie Reviews: Jobs

This is a new series of posts I’ve decided to write. I love talking and writing about movies, but rarely see new movies in time to review it before everyone else saw it. Now, I’m jumping into it fully aware that I should have seen these movies a long time ago. Who knows, maybe you haven’t gotten around to seeing it either!

When Steve Jobs past away, it was perhaps the biggest celebrity death of 2011. It wasn’t exactly a surprise, as he had resigned as the man in charge of Apple due to health concerns, but it was a time to reflect on the life and legacy of a man who had changed the world in so many ways. From the personal computer to the iPad, few humans have done more to change the daily routines of the species in the way Steve Jobs had. Thomas Edison comes to mind, but few others have had an influence as expansive as Mr. Jobs. Naturally, a biopic about the life of Steve Jobs was something Hollywood would want to make because the people would want it, but it may have been a little too rushed.

I remember hearing about Jobs while it was still in production, but did not hear a whole lot of hype, and didn’t see it until it popped up on my Netflix homepage last week. I remember an image that went viral that was a side-by-side of a young Steve Jobs from the 70s next to Ashton Kutcher in costume as Steve Jobs from that era. It feels as if Hollywood felt pressured to make a Steve Jobs movie while Ashton Kutcher was still young.

The biggest problem with Jobs was that it tried to do too much. It spans 30 years of Steve Jobs’ life, from his days wandering the campus of Reed College to the introduction of the iPod. There is only so much time in a movie, and there were several aspects of the movie that could be movies by themselves if they had been given the time to dig deeper. I would watch a movie just about Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak building the Apple II in Jobs’ parents garage. I would also be interested in a movie about the wars Jobs fought with IBM, Microsoft, and Apple’s own board of directors in the 1980s. Jobs barely touched on the innovations Steve Jobs made in the 21st Century or with Pixar because it would have been a four hour movie. Jobs was stretched thin by its own ambition, much like Apple Computer was with the introduction of the Macintosh in 1984. Lincoln and The Social Network succeeded as biopics because they didn’t take on such a vast time frame. If Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner had tried to make a movie about Abraham Lincoln’s entire life leading up to abolishing slavery, I would still be at the movie theater, and I saw it in December of 2012.

Ashton Kutcher’s performance was admirable. They did a good job of making him look old in the iPod presentation, and he showed a great range in the highs and lows of Steve Jobs’ life, but he’s one of those actors who I have trouble taking seriously. This performance was a step in the right direction, but I still see Michael Kelso from That 70’s Show. It’s hard to play a pioneer and innovator in a serious movie when he was this guy earlier in his career. It’s unfair, I know, but it’ll have to take a better movie than this one to change my mind on Ashton Kutcher.

Jobs was a decent movie, but it could have been better. I initially gave it four stars on Netflix, until I saw a PBS documentary on the life and influence of Steve Jobs that I liked more, but not enough to give five stars, so the documentary got four and Jobs was downgraded to three. It was entertaining, but not the world changer that its subject was.

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