Late last night, I was able to attend a showing of the new movie, Jobs. I have been interested in this movie ever since production started and I saw some of the stills of Ashton Kutcher in the role of Steve Jobs. Kutcher certainly had the look down, but the obvious question was, could someone who was more associated with comedy and typically plays an airhead, do this role justice? It seemed like most of the tech media didn’t even want to give him a chance because to many, he’ll always be Michael Kelso from That 70′s Show. That 70′s Show is one of my favorite television comedies of all time, but I was willing to look passed that and see what he could do and hoped they did a good job with the story.
This movie does cover a lot of the same ground that has been covered before. It focuses mostly on the early life of Jobs/Apple Computer. From working out of Steve’s parents garage, up to his ousting at Apple in 1985. All of this had been shown in the T.V. movie, Pirates of Silicon Valley, already and while the previous movie is a bit more historically accurate, this movie does present it in a more pleasing way for the viewer to ingest who wants the quick version. This movie does go a little beyond that with the mention of NeXT and showing when Steve was actually asked to come back to Apple.
One of the things I was curious about was wether or not this movie would glorify Steve Jobs as the perfect man that sometimes people think he was. Like anyone, he had some serious faults, especially in the early days and quite a few of these come out in the film. One of the big ones was how he treated people including the real brains behind the technology, Steve Wozniak. I was actually surprised that the movie even took the time to show Jobs time at Atari when he had Wozniak created the game Breakout and then took full credit and the majority of the money. The other obvious one, that was also shown even more so in Pirates of Silicon Valley , is how he handled things with his daughter Lisa in denying that she was even his daughter in the first place. There are also some of the more obvious things like really hammering on employees who didn’t see things his way, parking in handicapped parking stalls, and not giving stock options to some of the people who were helping Apple from the very beginning. One big omission, in the last one mentioned, was the fact that Steve Wozniak actually sacrificed some of his shares to give to those employees, so they weren’t completely left out. I kept waiting for a little mention of that during that part of the movie, but it never happened. I know the main focus of the movie is Jobs, but I think do think that is one of those little details that should have been covered.
Another omission, that I thought should have been in the movie, was the visit to Xerox PARC and the impact that it had on the Lisa and Mac. My only guess is that it had to do with run time of the film and the fact that it was also covered in Pirate of Silicon Valley as well, so they didn’t want to do a rehash, but it is certainly an important event in the Apple timeline. However, I did like the quick mention later on about the new Mac OS (OS X) being built off of NeXT OS. I think that is a little tidbit that not everyone knows that isn’t a techie and where a lot of the design elements from OS X actually came from like the dock.
Now, the big question, is how do I think Ashton did with the performance? Personally, I think he did very well. Along with the look, he was able to get a lot of the mannerisms and speech down. I think this role certainly pushed him to his limits and overall I was impressed. I would say though that two more emotional type scenes did take me out of the movie a little bit with how his performance was in those. One was just after Steve Wozniak tells him that he’s going to leave Apple and Jobs visits the garage at home with an emotional visit with his father. Ashton is supposed to be crying, but it comes off as almost like he’s laughing or just some kind of weird sound that just doesn’t seem quite right. The other was when things were starting to go sour with him at Apple and on a drive home he does a huge yell that also just doesn’t quite have the emotional impact that it should. However, having said that, I think these are two minor things and shouldn’t stop someone from seeing the movie if they have an interest.
Overall, I think the film is enjoyable and does what I think it was probably set out to do. I think if you have an interest in the founding of Apple, Steve being ousted, and then the comeback that you’ll enjoy it for what it is. It isn’t a perfect factual representation, but I think any movie like this should be the gateway drug in making the viewer wanting to find out more and I think it accomplishes that. Anyone who hasn’t done so after this movie, should then go on to watch Pirate of Silicon Valley or read the Walter Isaacson biography.
This also isn’t the last film to come out ,as there is one based on the biography by Sony, that is in the works as well. It will be interesting to see how that one pans out and which one truly does end up being the better movie. I think the early story of Apple has been covered very well at this point and I’d more interested now in the story from the 2nd rise of Apple when Steve came back, Apple becoming a success again, and how behind the scenes he had to deal with cancer.
Here’s a couple of videos that I thought were relevant to see again. The first is the iPod introduction which is very different from the movie. In the film Steve is presented as being much older and the crowd is more like a WWDC conference rather than a room of journalists at the Apple campus.
This other video is a demo of NeXT OS that anyone familiar with OS X will see the similarities that were then incorporated into OS X.