The new biopic “Jobs” is a solidly informative and entertaining “Brief History of Apple,” as seen through the eyes of its co-founding genius. We experience 30 years of Steve Jobs’ mercurial life and times, with plenty of tastes — but only tastes — of triumph plus a few dashes of comeuppance.
Arrogant, selfish, obsessive, an idealistic, perfectionist credit-hog who rolled over friends, adversaries, colleagues and lovers with a single-mindedness that fit his lurching, simian gait — the movie about him only has time to hint at what made the man tick and can only touch on Steve’s greatest hits and shortcomings.
It’s superficial, but that plays into the hands of the film’s star, Ashton Kutcher. He may be a screen lightweight, but the impersonation, starting with that famous walk, the famous explosions of temper, and the hissing, spitting, insulting take-downs the man was famous for, are spot on.
The film is framed within the crowning glory of Jobs’ and Apple’s comeback, the 2001 arrival of the iPod, a music delivery device that was as “revolutionary” as every product Jobs pushed for and hyped. “Jobs” flashes back to the hippie kid who recognized talent, and then inspired, nagged, badgered talent to accept nothing less than products — personal computers, onward — for which “the market doesn’t exist yet.”
Director Joshua Michael Stern (“Swing Vote”), working from a Matt Whiteley script, is most at home underlining — complete with soaring violins on the soundtrack — the red-letter moments in Apple’s history, especially early ones. The film captures the sad arc of the bromance between Jobs and the tech whiz and soldering savant Steve Wozniak (Josh Gad), a nerd’s nerd with a lot of interests. He basically invented the personal computer and went into business with Jobs not just for the challenge, the money and the adventure, but for the chance to hang out “with the coolest guy” he’d ever met.