Say what you will about “Jobs,” the two-hour long biopic starring Ashton Kutcher as genius Apple creator Steve Jobs, but it has a damn fine soundtrack.
The film is problematic in several ways, the least of which is that it plays like a made-for-TV movie.
The problems with Kutcher in the title role are twofold: 1) He suffers from Celebrity Syndrome, in that it is nearly impossible to separate his onscreen presence from his Us Weekly one and 2) he is just not a good actor (his handsome dummy “That 70’s Show” character notwithstanding).
“Jobs,” an Open Road Films production, falls prey to the usual biopic tropes and can be mapped out pretty much exactly like this: visionary idea! – roadblock – inspirational speech! – roadblock – heart-to-heart – roadblock – comeback – inspirational speech! As with many biopics, the film spans too much time.
Jobs and his friend/ Apple co-creator Steve Wozniak, played by Josh Gad, at Reed College could have been a 90-minute film, or Jobs being kicked out of his own company in the late eighties could have been its own cautionary tale. Instead, “Jobs” spans over two decades and has little focus.
The script, which is Matt Whitely’s first, is stiff, boilerplate and empty. There are only so many times that something can “change the world” or be “limitless” or “impossible,” but every piece of dialogue contains the same, trite words.
Although “Jobs” is a tribute, Whitely should be commended for including some of Jobs’ more despicable traits, like how he didn’t acknowledge his first daughter for years, or the fact that he seemed stubborn and nearly impossible to be friends or business partners with, scenes Kutcher has difficulty carrying. (Seeing the erstwhile Michael Kelso break into tears has almost the opposite effect that is supposed to.)
Kutcher, however, looks the part and the costumer and set designer did a fine job of showing the passage of time from 1974 to 1996 with subtle costume and set changes.
Techies may get turned on by the technical jargon and innovation scenes (an Apple computer is actually once referred to as “sexy” because of its “curves”), but right-brains may just find it plain boring.
“Jobs’” best moments are the early scenes between Jobs and Wozniak. The two actors have decent chemistry together, and Gad especially proves to have a good sense of comedic timing, but this quality is lost throughout the film.
Steve Jobs was a fascinating person and his creation of the largest company in the world could be an inspiring story. But the way this version is told is bland and boring.
“Jobs” premiere in theaters nationwide August 16. Directed by Joshua Michael Stern. Rated PG-13.