Friday, June 21, 2024

Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs: Something Does Not Compute


Last night: the premiere at the Museum of Modern Art screening room for “Jobs” or “jOBS” or however you want to spell it. This is the movie starring Ashton Kutcher as Apple founder Steve Jobs. Josh Gad plays Steve Wozniak, Matthew Modine is John Scully, and Dermot Mulroney is their long suffering lawyer.

This is what you get from the movie: Steve Jobs was disloyal to his close friends, horrible to his girlfriend and illegitimate child, and basically a putz who had a gift for design and marketing. Kutcher, an affably guy of limited acting abilities, looks like he’s going to have a cerebral hemorrhage in some scenes as Jobs is supposedly “thinking.”

If only someone connected to the movie had done some of that hard thinking. “Jobs” is like a really long Lifetime movie without any glamorous women. It’s a linear biopic about someone no one likes or is really fond of. You learn a lot about computers and almost nothing about the people who made them. There’s very little insight into the man, Steve Jobs. Instead, Kutcher imitates his walk, his hairstyles, wears his eyeglasses, and eats fruit.

And I am really confused. I thought Jobs named Apple after the Beatles’ Apple because he admired the group. In the movie, it’s Wozniak who likes the Fab Four. Jobs likes Bob Dylan. The producers of the film spent so much money on licensing recordings by Dylan and Cat Stevens, among others, that their instrumental score sounds like it was lifted from Hallmark Hall of Fame Thanksgiving special.

Gad, Modine, Mulroney, and J.K. Simmons are the real winners here. If it weren’t for them, you’d leave the screening room within 30 minutes. Gad lights up the screen as Wozniak. Modine is so good you wonder why we don’t see him more. Mulroney really keeps the scenes moving as Kutcher’s concentration wavers. I also really liked Ahna O’Reilly as the babymama of Jobs’s first kid. She’s also in “Fruitvale Station” this summer. Keep an eye on her.

Joshua Michael Stern directed from a script by Michael Whiteley. They are each in deep water way over their heads. I suppose geeks will be interested in “Jobs.” But this is no “Social Network.” Indeed, this shows us what a great job Aaron Sorkin did humanizing those people and making the material accessible and clever.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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