‘jOBS,’ reviewed by Marshall Fine


There’s nothing that terrible about Joshua Michael Stern’s “jOBS,” a skimpy, often overly specific film biography about the late Apple inventor, Steve Jobs.

Still, it would be interesting to see this film with another actor playing Jobs. While Ashton Kutcher looks the part (actually, his face is rounder than Jobs’ less open, oval-shaped head), he doesn’t have the skill to bring the character to life, at least as written by Matt Whiteley.

There are a couple of serious problems with the film: one with the character and one with Kutcher. The character is written as an emotional cipher, probably somewhere high on the Asperger’s spectrum. He’s someone who doesn’t understand that other people might even have feelings that are different from his own.

Jobs tends to travel inward when confronted with conflict – which arises frequently in this movie about his career ups and downs (he apparently sacrificed all personal life to his work). So you need an actor who can convey the emotions that Jobs works so hard to suppress, someone who can show you an interior life that walls out others while allowing his ideas in.

You also need an actor who can capture that “Eureka!” feeling that Jobs obviously experienced semi-regularly – as well as conveying how both fascinating and frustrating it must be to spend all your time conceptualizing. It’s not exactly a cinematic activity.

It would take an actor like Guy Pearce or Sam Rockwell to relay all those complexities of character without describing them verbally. But it’s simply beyond Kutcher’s ability; his go-to facial expression is a smirk that can dissolve into a smile or tears, depending on how hard Kutcher bites his own cheek.

The film – which opens with Kutcher as a gray-bearded, thinning-haired Jobs, coming down like Zeus from Olympus to unveil the first iPod to his staff in 2001 – is mostly a linear, chronological retelling of Jobs’ greatest hits.

This review continues on my website.

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