by M. Faust
To get the obvious question out of the way up front: How bad is Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs, founder and former CEO of Apple? Not really bad at all, though it may depend on whether you feel Jobs was a visionary guru who pulled the world into the 21st century by the force of his will or an asshole who benefited from the work and talents of others.
I would put myself somewhere in the middle, but Jobs the film has no such ambivalence: It’s a hagiography in which even Jobs’s acknowledged personal faults are somehow seen as proof of his purity and belief in his vision.
Ayn Rand would have loved this guy.
Kutcher is able to project both bottomless enthusiasm and stubborn willfulness, which is all this depiction of Jobs asks. It more or less assumes that you consider his products—from the Apple II and Macintosh computers up through the various “i” gizmos—to be emblematic of modern life. For that matter, it takes for granted that you know what he made: The film opens with his first presentation of the iPod, to rapturous applause, and never progress beyond that moment. If you don’t consider the iPod one of the major accomplishments of western civilization, this may not be the film for you.
The bulk of Jobs focuses on his struggles in the early 1980s with Apple’s board of directors, who forced him out of the company he began because it felt his obsessions were driving it to bankruptcy. Like The Fountainhead’s Howard Roark, Jobs is presented as a man who should be above such petty concerns because—well, because he’s above them.
Those looking for biography will come away disappointed. So little of Jobs’ personal life makes it to the screen that the bits that do, like his refusal to acknowledge paternity of his daughter, feel more meaningful than they’re meant to (and leave you frustrated when they’re not resolved). But then, what can you expect from a film whose production credits include one for “Virgin Produced”?
Watch the trailer for Jobs
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