Apples and Oranges
Director Joshua Michael Stern reveals the first film on the late technology pioneer Steve Jobs. Despite having a small budget, Ashton Kutcher’s casting as the Apple CEO generated a swarm of buzz. Once a side by side photo emerged revealing the two look unbelievably alike, surely that meant Ashton was simply destined for this role, right?
Before we get to Mr. Kutcher, Jobs chronicles the life of Steve Jobs from college dropout to the unveiling of the iPod. For those unfamiliar with Steve Jobs’ life, that’s a lot of ground to cover – perhaps too much. Unfortunately, Jobs turns into a biographical video slideshow of “this happened, then that happened” as it skims over his life.
As I watched this story of a technology trailblazer, who’s company’s small beginnings in college resulted in a global phenomenon, I could not help but think of David Fincher’s The Social Network. I am by no means comparing Mark Zuckerberg to Steve Jobs, however there were key aspects that made the Zuckerberg film stand above Jobs’. The Social Network explored themes of betrayal, jealousy, and greed, whereas Jobs felt flat and hollow. Steve Jobs’ life had several distinct events that the filmmakers could have explored: Steve hiring Pepsi’s marketing executive as CEO resulting in Steve’s downfall, the betrayal of Bill Gates (that is just mentioned in phone call and abruptly ends), and Steve Jobs keeping Atari’s $5000 from Steve Wozniak which is perfectly set up but never comes around in the end. Those are just a few moments in his life that Jobs could have explored and examined how they affected Steve Jobs, the man, which we never got to know. With every line of cheesy, uber-inspiring dialogue they wrote in the film, it left me more and more uninspired. However, the filmmakers aren’t the only ones to blame.
It is without question that Ashton Kutcher looks like Steve Jobs, especially during his young, bearded days. There were even moments in the film that I did a mental double take thinking it was actually Steve Jobs. The physical similarities are uncanny, but Ashton doesn’t seem to connect on an emotional and psychological level. Believe me, I went into Jobs giving Ashton the benefit of the doubt. I know how much Ashton Kutcher was passionate about this role and wanted to prove that he could handle it. I will say that there were brief moments that were effective, but overall, his performance is very forgettable. At the end credits of Jobs, they show side by side pictures of each cast member and the actual person they portrayed. As a whole, the filmmakers definitely nailed the “look-a-like” casting, but Ashton Kutcher’s performance proves that sometimes, just because the actor looks so much like the real person, doesn’t mean they could (and should) play the role.
Real-life incongruences aside, Jobs is a one dimensional gloss over his life, instead of diving into pivotal emotional moments. The fallout with Pepsi CEO , Bill Gates’ betrayal, or even Steve’s disconnect with his family could have been great opportunities to have that much needed emotional core. The Social Network scribe Aaron Sorkin is rumored to be developing a Steve Jobs film that focuses exclusively on 3 different days before different product launches. It’s bold and very unorthodox compared to a traditional biopic, but Steve Jobs seemed to be all about thinking different. Steve Jobs believed that Apple didn’t necessarily have to do something first, but it had to do it right. Director Joshua Michael Stern pushed Jobs to be the first biopic, but sadly, it wasn’t right.