The long-awaited ‘Jobs’ biopic, starring Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs, opened in theaters this weekend, and by all counts it’s been a bit of a flop. According to Deadline Hollywood, it’s sitting at the #7 spot, pulling in just $6.7 million domestically.
But is it really that bad of a movie? No. Then why is it doing so poorly? That’s a tough question to answer, but I’m going to try to do it in the following paragraphs. Don’t worry, I imagine this is the fiftieth ‘Jobs’ review you’ve come across, so I’m going to keep it short and sweet.
I saw Jobs yesterday afternoon, with my girlfriend. We went to the 12:50pm showing, and unfortunately we got there just as the previews were starting. So if they had shown the new Mac Pro commercial, we missed it.
The movie opens with Ashton—I mean Steve making his way to the stage for his big iPod unveiling in October of 2001. It then flashes back to his early 20’s and proceeds to take us on a journey of the founding of Apple…
Ashton as Steve
Overall, I thought Ashton did a good job. It’s obvious that he did his homework for the role. He had the look, the mannerisms, the walk—everything but his voice appeared very Steve-like. He also did a good job of showing emotion during intense scenes. It was entertaining, and I give him a B for his performance.
Having said all of that, I still had a major problem with the role: I could never get past the fact that I was watching Ashton Kutcher pretending to be Steve Jobs. I never fully bought into the character, and I think that made the movie less enjoyable. I kept hearing Kelso from That 70’s Show telling me to ‘think different.’
To be fair, though, I’m not sure who I would’ve picked instead.
At the heart of the Jobs film is the story of how Apple was founded, which is a great one no matter how you tell it. It’s crazy to think that the world’s largest company (by market cap) started in a garage with a group of kids soldering circuit boards.
Speaking of which, all of the main cast members gave solid performances. While Kutcher probably won’t win an Oscar for this role, he was good, as was Josh Gad, who played Steve Wozniak, Dermot Mulroney, who played Mike Markkula, and the rest of the early Apple gang.
And of course, the entire film is littered with famous Steve Jobs quotes. One of my favorites is the line he gave to then-PepsiCo CEO John Sculley in an effort to lure him over to Apple: “Do you want to sell sugared water for the rest of your life? Or do you want to come with me and change the world?” Sculley joined Apple almost immediately.
It’s hard to pinpoint just what exactly is wrong with Jobs. The movie has a good cast, a solid score, and a great storyline, yet it still manages to disappoint.
I’d say the problems rest squarely on the shoulders of the script writer Matt Whiteley and director Joshua Michael Stern. The duo seem to have used the formula (which I believe I saw online somewhere, but couldn’t find it) 1+1+1+1+1+1=movie. The structure is just awful. One minute Jobs is in India, the next he’s in a garage, and the next he’s in a scene with his wife, kids and once-abandoned daughter Lisa. This makes it really tough to follow the story.
Add to that the cheesy made-for-tv-movie hero scenes, and the fact that the film left out some key areas in Steve’s life (like his time at NeXT, for example) and you can start to see why Jobs isn’t getting much love from the critics—it’s rated at 25% on Rotten Tomatoes.
For me, this is a classic example of a movie trying to do way too much, with far too little. It didn’t have the script, it didn’t have the director, and it didn’t have the acting talent to take on the ambitious goals it set for itself.
That being said, I enjoyed the film, as did my girlfriend—but we’re both long-time Apple fans. Did I think it was good enough to recommend to my non tech-savvy friends and family, like my mom? No, which is why I think it’s doing so poorly. If I didn’t like the movie enough to recommend it, I doubt others did. And bad reviews + poor word of mouth isn’t exactly a recipe for success.