Ashton Kutcher spent months preparing to play Steve Jobs, successfully mimicking his fruitarian diet and bouncy walk but not much else, in “Jobs.” Jobs is the stereotypical college dropout—barefoot, shaggy-haired and still hanging around campus to sit in on classes for free at the suggestion of a professor who begged him to keep learning. He has no sense of direction, despite a profound, montaged trip to India. Jobs’s only redeeming quality throughout the movie is the passion and commitment he shows toward his innovative ideas.
If you expect to get a better sense of how Apple thrived under Jobs’s vision, however, disappointment awaits as the film pushes the history of the company into the background. Strangely, despite director Joshua Michael Stern’s best efforts to elucidate deep emotions from his actors, we get very little sense of how characters relate to each other. The exception is Josh Gad’s performance as Steve Wozniak. He manages to lend depth and integrity to a self-labeled introvert and keeps reminding the audience that this movie is not about the good guy; it’s about the a--hole that everyone wanted on their team because he was a demanding visionary.
The film isn't concerned with staying true to the real events in the lives of the Apple co-founders, and Stern doesn't concern himself with character relationships. With the number of people who get fired in this film, it sorely lacks in truthful outbursts and anger, settling for long, furlough looks and heads bowed in shame. The entire film translates into an advertisement—for Apple, for a call to modernity and innovation and for an extrovert nation.
The audience is condemned to see the series of events through Jobs’s lens, forced to reckon with the pretense that a booming voice, stubbornness and bold vision are the only characteristics worthwhile in a leader. Gad’s Wozniak is the real inventor, but he cannot realize his potential without Jobs pushing for more. Dermot Mulroney’s portrayal of Apple angel investor Mike Markkula made him out to be a power player only once, helping push Jobs out of Apple for a while. For the rest of the film, Stern has him playing a dog-like character, excitable at others’s ideas, but thoughtless on his own.
Overall, Jobs falls short of expectations, but perhaps those were set too high to begin with considering that the drama never aimed for factual accuracy. Rather, its purpose is to provide relevant homage to the man that gave us the world in our pockets and made us want more.