Opening Weekend: $6,700,000
(16 August 2013)
(USA)(16 August 2013)
Did You Know?
This movie is being made with no involvement from Apple whatsoever. See more »
When Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak meet in the conference room the night before the IPO, the notepad on the conference room table to Wozniak's right moves around between shots. When Wozniak gets up to leave the room, the notepad is there but there's also another piece of paper adjacent to it. In the next shot, only the notepad is there. See more »
The first of what will surely be many biopics to come of one of the
20th century's greatest innovators, 'Jobs' only draw is being first out
of the gate. Yes, if you haven't yet been acquainted with the
tumultuous early years of the Apple founder, then this perfunctory
retelling will probably be as good an introduction as any; but everyone
else who is familiar with the story will be disappointed with this
overly simplistic portrayal of a complex man whose ambition was both
his greatest gift as well as his most significant stumbling block.
Beginning in 2001 when he unveiled his masterpiece, the iPod, to
rapturous applause, Stern and his first-time feature screenwriter Matt
Whiteley rewind the clock thirty years ago to 1971 when Jobs was a
student at Reed College, Portland. An LSD trip, a journey to India and
a brief stint at Atari later, Jobs teams up with his buddy, self-taught
engineering wiz Steve Wozniak (Josh Gad), to build Apple computers in
the former's parents' Los Altos garage. Jobs had the inspired idea to
combine a typewriter with a TV, and the Apple II was born - but not
without the funding from entrepreneur and former Intel engineer Mike
Markkula (Dermot Mulroney).
To find a dramatic hook, Whiteley predictably focuses on the most
pivotal turning point in Jobs' life, as Jobs' launch of the Macintosh
computer in 1984 sparks off an internal feud with his CEO John Scully
(Matthew Modine) and the rest of the Board (including J.K. Simmons'
Arthur Rock) that leads to his ouster and the company's subsequent
decline. Of course, Jobs makes a return to the flailing company in 1996
upon then-CEO Gil Amelio's (Kevin Dunn) request, returning Apple to its
roots in the personal computer market and paving the way for its
Is there anything this dramatization adds to that true story which you
cannot glean from any text-based account? Hardly; if anything, it
merely puts a face to the disbelief, disappointment, indignation and
gratification Jobs must have felt when he was kicked out of Apple and
then presented with the golden opportunity to rebuild the company into
the vision he had for it at the onset. The storytelling is pretty
straightforward, covering the important events of his professional ups
and downs but providing little details beyond what is already public
Admittedly, to expect more would probably be a tall order, since the
man has passed away and the others who would be familiar with these
past events did not participate in the making of this film - including
the real-life Woz, who in fact has been a vocal critic of the movie.
But more disappointingly, Stern completely glosses over Jobs' personal
life and personality, both of which are essential to any
self-respecting biopic - after all, how can any biography be complete
without an insight into the person whose life story is being told?
Whiteley's episodic script is utterly superficial in this regard - and
we're not talking about Jobs' drive, determination or innovation.
Instead, Jobs' crucial relationship with Wozniak is thinly sketched,
not only because it omits how they met and their chemistry, but also
because it barely explains why Woz quit Apple dissatisfied with the
direction the company was heading and the person that Jobs had become.
Other aspects of Jobs' character are given short shrift - for instance,
we see Jobs dumping his pregnant girlfriend Chris-Ann Brennan (Ahna
O'Reilly) and refusing to recognise his newly born daughter as his own
early on, but are given little explanation how and why he settles down
and turns into a family man later.
If the scripting is a part of the problem, then the acting is yet
another. Chiefly, while bearing more than a passing resemblance to
Jobs, Ashton Kutcher is not up to the part. To his credit, one can tell
Kutcher has put in a lot of effort into the role, emulating his
character's awkwardly hunched posture as well as to some degree his
voice and gestures; unfortunately Kutcher always looks like he is
playing the part, and never quite becoming the character he is supposed
to portray. It is an affected performance, and Kutcher's limitations as
a dramatic actor are all too apparent here. In fact, the supporting
acts steal the show, especially Mulroney's solid turn as Jobs' ally
Most of all, Stern's film rarely possesses the qualities that
characterised Jobs - it isn't bold enough to offer a balanced, or
critical even, perspective of the man (including his more unsavoury
personal aspects), nor unique enough to provide a distinctive look at
the early years of his storied career. What emerges is simply bland and
uninspired filmmaking, which in the context of Jobs' illustrious and
intricate life, is an unsatisfying tribute to a man who spent his time
being exactly the opposite.