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jOBS (review)

jobsjOBS
Written by Matt Whitely
Directed by Joshua Michael Stern
Starring Ashton Kutcher, Josh Gad and Dermot Mulroney
 

Steve Jobs: Here’s to the crazy ones, because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, actually do.

When Steve Jobs passed away in 2011, some people were calling him the Da Vinci of his time. From revolutionizing the personal computer experience to completely changing the way music is sold and consumed, Jobs did plenty to earn that comparison from his many, many admirers. The trouble with admiration from afar though is that it is more of an icon, of the idea of the man, and not necessarily the man himself. A new film, the first of two that went into development about Jobs’ life shortly after he died, jOBS, certainly continued to perpetuate the idea that Jobs was a great man and that he changed the way the world interacts with technology through his influence and determination. At the same time though, it paints Jobs as an opportunist who got to where he was by surrounding himself with people who were smart enough to make his ideas come to life when he wasn’t.

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In what was certainly a contentious decision, Ashton Kutcher was cast to fill the shoes of Jobs himself, or perhaps more accurately, to not fill his shoes considering Jobs was not terribly fond of wearing them. Kutcher is certainly not known for his acting range but I did, and do still, applaud him for braving new terrains like this one. Kutcher does an adequate job as Jobs, even going so far as to walk with a haunched back and a shuffle to mimic the man’s movements, but we never really get anywhere near an understanding of what makes him tick. This may be because Kutcher’s abilities do not really include much internal conflict as most of his performance remains on the surface. This could also be because Matt Whiteley’s screenplay, his absolute first, focuses primarily on Jobs’ rise, fall and rise again as the CEO of Apple Computers, spanning from 1974 to 1996, and very little else. As a result, we get to know Jobs the businessman very well but the man behind that facade is left unexplored. Whichever it is, the good news is Kutcher has still never been better before and if he continues to scratch at his surface, as beautiful as it is, he may find layers he never knew existed one day.

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With two conflicting ideas of the man presented, I was reasonably engaged but I was left feeling like I didn’t really get to know Jobs at all. Instead, all that jOBS really does is give us a man that is meant to be Jobs and banks on the audience understanding of his image to fill in the blanks, of which there are many. The film is aesthetically interesting, capturing the hair and costumes of the 70’s and 80’s well, and the supporting cast is solid, from Josh Gad as the tech guru, Steve Wozniak, to Dermot Mulroney and Matthew Modine, as some of the corporate obstacles Jobs faced in his career. Many of the elements are well designed but director, Joshua Michael Stern, takes too tepid an approach to telling this story. He seems to want to say certain things about Jobs but doesn’t want to be so accusatory that he angers Jobs’ ardent fans. As a result, a film about a man who will go down in history for changing the technological landscape on a global scale, will be forgotten by the time the second film on the subject hits theatres.

3

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