Sorry, fellow iPhone owners and Steve Jobs fans: the first of two upcoming movies about his life, called simply Jobs, didn't work for me.
This two-hour long epic take, opening Friday, attempts to recount 23 years of Jobs' life. It does so with awkward montages such as a particularly incoherent one with Jobs on LSD and little character development. Meanwhile, the surface of the events it portrays is barely scratched.
A Believable Steve, Almost
Kutcher spent a great deal of time learning Jobs' mannerisms and how he moved, and countless hours listening to Soundcloud files of Steve Jobs' speeches in order to mimic how he talked.
The first part of that preparation shows. You'd be forgiven for thinking it was actually Jobs giving the keynote that opens the film. Kutcher has undoubtedly got Jobs' walk and mannerisms down almost perfectly.
But then he starts to talk. The Apple co-founder had a particular charismatic way of speaking, drawing you into the dream of what he was introducing. Kutcher just can't come close. He plays Steve Jobs the college dropout better than Steve Jobs the salesman.
While it fails in replicating Jobs' career years, the film succeeds more in showing his early life, particularly in costume and set design. The film does a great job of replicating early Apple, with many scenes actually shot at the Jobs' family home. You'd swear it was actually filmed in the 70's.
An Incomplete Jobs
The movie opens with the launch of the iPod in 2001, goes back in time to Jobs' time at Reed College in 1973, and then tells his story through his return to Apple in December of 1996. It doesn't ever get back to where it started, and it's hard not to notice that.
That incomplete feeling is intensified by the organization of the movie itself. It's as if the filmmakers made a list of Important Steve Jobs Moments and went about shooting each with no regard to how they tied together. Jobs' feud with Bill Gates lasts for a 10-second one-sided phone call one already been captured in the film's Instagram trailer, below.
There's no real underlying story, no real character development. Jobs tells his pregnant girlfriend he's not the father of her child. Then he names a computer after her; then he works with a lawyer to give up his rights as a parent. The complex situation is never explained, and the character remains undeveloped by these actions. A further complication: the girl's sudden appearance on his sofa later in the film.
The film desperately needs some sort of unifying story. It jumps around in time too much. No part of the story really gets fleshed out so much that you care about it. I would much rather the film covered the launch of Apple as a company, say, rather than trying to cram 24 action-packed years into two hours.
Sony is working on its own Steve Jobs movie, with a screenplay by Aaron Sorkin based on the authorized biography written by Walter Isaacson. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is a consultant for the film.
Jobs opens in theaters August 16.
Image: Jobs Movie