“Jobs” Movie Review

     There are many truly inspiring moments throughout director Joshua Michael Stern’s “Jobs”, a biopic covering the early years in the life of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.  Stern’s film seems bloated at times with scenes that may have been better left on the cutting room floor, but if you’re a lifetime user of Apple products, or even if you began, like most people, with the iPhone, “Jobs” will intrigue you with the story of how it all began.  As portrayed by Ashton Kutcher, the film presents Steve Jobs as somewhat of a long shot to have become the person we came to know in his later years.  I’m told it’s difficult to buy into Kutcher as a film actor if you had watched him as a television actor in “That 70s Show”, but since that’s not the case with me, I have to respect the way Kutcher clearly immersed himself into his role here and how well he perfected Jobs’ mannerisms.  Kudos also to the makeup and costume departments, as they have ensured Kutcher maintains a believable Jobs likeness throughout.

     Having watched live all of Steve Jobs’ presentations of new Apple products, I got goosebumps during the opening scene in which Jobs walks on stage at an Apple town hall meeting to introduce the iPod for the very first time.  Knowing now what was to come in the future, you can understand why Jobs proclaims “We are going to put a dent in the universe.” as he takes the reins of Apple for the second time.  Stern’s film isn’t about product launches, however.  Instead, screen writer Matt Whiteley takes what is known about Jobs early college life and fills in the blanks, depicting on screen the ambition and drive that made him both an icon in his field but also difficult to work with.

     The story begins in the early 70s when we first meet Jobs, who has recently dropped out of Reed College.  He’s still seen on campus, but doesn’t seem to fit into the regimented college schedule, learning information he likely feels is useless and not worth his time.  During the film, there are numerous shots that contain a portrait of Einstein somewhere in the background and this isn’t coincidence.  Einstein is famous for criticizing structured learning, arguing it doesn’t allow students to express themselves creatively.  There’s no doubt Jobs agreed, opting instead to make his mark as a business man using a unique mix of demanding leadership and creative artistry.

     With the introduction of the Apple One, Apple Computer was born as a start up in the garage of Steve Job’s parents house.  His best friend, Steve Wozniak (Josh Gad) handles the engineering duties and has invented what was the worlds first personal computer.  At the time, a computer attached to a display and meant for home use was unheard of and even scoffed at by fellow scholars in the industry.  Computers at the time manufactured by Hewlett Packard and IBM were large main frames in office settings and word processing was still done on a typewriter.  Job’s company hits it big when an investor, Mike Markkula (Dermot Mulroney), steps in and funds the production of the Apple Two which goes on to lead a personal computing revolution and also cornered the education market.

     This being a fictional story based on true events, Whiteley has constructed scenes and dialogue depicting both the sometimes impossible nature of Jobs, as well as the board room politics that led to his demise the first time around.  The film’s 2 hour 6 minute running time spans over 20 years and continues on through Jobs’ second stint at Apple.  After hiring Pepsi marketing ace John Sculley as Apple CEO, the board turns on Jobs when his Macintosh computer and operating system threatens the companies perceived stability.  Another one of those goose bump inducing moments comes when Jobs presents to a huge crowd, the Ridley Scott directed Macintosh commercial “1984”, still recognized today as one of the most successful Super Bowl commercials ever.  It was this commercial where Jobs’ Einstein like vision of removing ourselves from the boring and regimented masses comes to life, as the commercial portrays the computer using human race as lifeless drones dictated to by some ominous being on a video screen.  For the first time, a computer was coming along that would have us “Think Different.”

     After being ousted from Apple Computer, Jobs is shown briefly in his successful role as CEO of NEXT Computers, whose operating system would be the basis for the MAC OS we know today.  When Jobs is asked back, first as a consultant to Apple, but later as the CEO, he then begins to bring the style and cool factor to Apple’s products that had been lacking for so many years.  The original Apple Two and even the first Macintosh computer were revolutionary, but when IBM began making computers just like them and created their own copycat version of the MAC OS (you may have heard of Windows), even Apple’s products became stale and run of the mill.  In the final scenes of “Jobs”, we meet a young Jonathan Ive (Giles Matthey) as he presents artwork for what would become the colorful all in one computer, the iMac which I would consider the turning point that brought Apple back to profitability.  I’m an Apple guy and always have been.  That scene meant something to me.

     On the day of his death, I felt nearly as though someone from my own family had passed away.  I can only hope the younger people who see “Jobs” will come to appreciate the creative innovations he made that put the devices they love to use in their hands.  With “Jobs” stopping just prior to the introduction of the iMac, you could easily fill two more sequels worth of film’s with all he accomplished after that.  Due out next year is a film based on the Walter Isaacson book “Steve Jobs”, based on interviews with Jobs himself, with a screenplay written by Academy Award winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (“The Social Network”).  Perhaps that film will continue the story “Jobs” has told, taking full advantage of the many important moments in Apple’s history.  GRADE: B