The new biopic “Jobs” is a solidly informative and entertaining “Brief History of Apple,” as seen through the eyes of its co-founding genius. We experience 30 years of Steve Jobs’ mercurial life and times, with plenty of tastes of triumph and a few dashes of comeuppance.
Arrogant, selfish, obsessive, an idealistic, perfectionist credit-hog who rolled over friends, adversaries, colleagues and lovers with a single-mindedness that fit his lurching, simian gait — the movie about him only has time to hint at what made the man tick and can only touch on his greatest hits and shortcomings.
It’s superficial, but that plays into the hands of the film’s star, Ashton Kutcher.
He may be a screen lightweight, but the impersonation, starting with that famous walk, the famous explosions of temper, and the hissing, spitting, insulting take-downs the man was famous for, are spot on.
DIRECTED BY: Joshua Michael Stern
STARRING: Ashton Kutcher, Dermot Mulroney. Josh Gad, Lukas Haas
RATED: PG-13 GRADE: C+
RUNNING TIME: 122 minutes
Director Joshua Michael Stern (“Swing Vote”), working from a Matt Whiteley script, is most at home underlining — complete with soaring violins on the soundtrack — the red-letter moments in Apple’s history. The film captures the sad arc of the bromance between Jobs and the tech whiz and soldering savant Steve Wozniak (Josh Gad), a nerd’s nerd with a lot of interests. He basically invented the personal computer and went into business with Jobs not just for the challenge, money and adventure, but for the chance to hang out “with the coolest guy” he’d ever met.
“Jobs” details the odd diets, fast cars and Bob Dylan mania of its hero, but never really gets under the skin of this adopted kid craving acceptance. We understand his passion for design, but his “Eureka!” moments — realizing that portable CD players are “junk,” the unveiling of the Macintosh “1984” TV commercial — play as bland.
The saga makes note of but doesn’t dwell on the daughter Jobs refused for much of his life to acknowledge. Yes, he named the troubled “Lisa” project after her, but he only mellowed enough to accept her much later in life. And the story ends before his last great act of stubbornness — relying on diet and other ineffective holistic means to battle a perfectly treatable cancer.
It makes for a decent but rushed film, and makes you wish this team and their effort had been aimed at a cable TV miniseries.