Matt Pais, @mattpais
RedEye movie critic
August 15, 2013
**1/2 (out of four)
No, “Jobs” doesn’t reach the heights of “The Social Network.” Few movies do.
Yet this biopic delivers a powerful lesson via an OK movie: That people can change the world if they don’t let others stand in their way. “Jobs” traces Apple founder Steve Jobs’ (Ashton Kutcher) life from his college-aged days as an ambitious, brilliant dropout to the late-‘90s era when he returned to the company that previously forced him out. At first, the casting seems questionable; Kutcher’s good looks don’t exactly scream “socially awkward computer whiz,” and when Jobs meets a cute coed and immediately gets her in bed, “Jobs” seems like it could be the surprising tale of the studliest nerd of all time. Note: I have no idea how many groupies George Lucas has slept with.
Whether or not you’ve read any of Walter Isaacson’s remarkably dense book on the late genius, you can probably guess that the rest of “Jobs” isn’t a checklist of sexual conquests. (Still waiting on that Wilt Chamberlain doc.) From the classroom to his parents’ garage to the eventual Apple corporate headquarters, Jobs proves not only to be a man whose mind worked at a remarkably high level. He’s also one whose perspective and innovation came so naturally that he felt deep frustration toward anyone not on his wavelength. “You’re damn good,” one of young Jobs’ bosses tells him. “But you’re an asshole.” Paging Mark Zuckerberg, amiright?
What a disappointment, then, that first-time feature writer Matt Whiteley so fumbles the complexity of the story. “Jobs” contains only glimpses of Jobs’ rocky family life, and the film really fails where “The Social Network” succeeded in chronicling fractured friendships. In the Jonah Hill part to Kutcher’s Brad Pitt, Josh Gad (as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak) fails to make an impression as the film struggles to showcase Jobs’ determination without spiraling into redundancy. Frequently, “Jobs” is a movie that won’t get out of its own way.
Still, it’s amazing to think about young viewers who may not realize that home computers and iPods didn’t just materialize on their own. As entertainment with a perfectly competent Kutcher performance and big ideas, “Jobs” remains an inspiring bit of business about the business that values results over pals.
Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U
Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page.
Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC