Sundance '13: Kutcher Impresses in 'Jobs' But There's Not Much Else
by Alex Billington
January 26, 2013
The man, the myth, the legend. The first feature about the late Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computers and legendary innovator/leader. Premiering as the closing night film at Sundance 2013 is Jobs, directed by Joshua Michael Stern starring Steve Jobs look-alike Ashton Kutcher. But is it any good? Will it live up to his legacy? That was the question on everyone's mind, however I must unfortunately report that it's not The Social Network for Apple. It's an attempt to tell that kind of story, but it's nothing special, just a polished, inspirational look at the man and the years of struggle running one of the biggest companies in the world.
I fully expected the film to divisive for many reasons: first, it's not an Aaron Sorkin screenplay, and since we know he is writing one about Jobs, we're all patiently waiting to see how that turns out; second, this was "rushed" into production and completed just over a year after his death. Beyond that, it spans roughly 24 years of time starting with the very early origins of Apple as well as his return, ending essentially with the launch of the iPod in 2001. Nonetheless, it's still an independent film and features a huge ensemble cast, but it doesn't particularly stand out as the definitive Jobs film since his passing. It doesn't add anything into the mix that we don't already know about him, but it is mostly entertaining and, at least for me, inspirational.
After seeing the film at its premiere, FirstShowing's own Ethan Anderton and I met up to record a video blog discussing the film and its merits/demerits. Here is our full video blog for Joshua Michael Stern's Jobs:
As an independent film, Jobs is certainly well-made, but not necessarily anything unique. It is a somewhat straightforward biopic/exploration into the formation and struggles of an iconic technology company. There are many scenes of monologues and iconic moments shown in full, which is an admittedly riveting story to follow, but the use of period pop music with each and every scene took me out of it. The score is good, and the performances are great, but beyond that it's not exactly memorable. It's not going to leave a dent in the universe in the way Steve Jobs did. But if you're intrigued by Jobs and Apple's origin story, it's worth seeing.
One of the moment missing from the movie entirely was the time he discovered the mouse at the Xerox R&D facility. While we get to see some of the moments around them, including his visit to the homebrew club and first sale of 500 boards to a local computer shop, they skip around quickly after establishing those origins. Maybe I just wanted to see more of that, maybe I really wanted it to get into the details, and spend more time exploring what made him such a perfect leader at Apple, but it has an extensive amount of time to cover from the first days in 1977 to Jobs' return in 1996, and even at almost two hours, it moves along fairly quick. It's entertaining, Kutcher is outstanding, but otherwise lacks the many layers that Jobs obviously had.