Ashton Kutcher is Steve Jobs.
You have to give Kutcher credit: He studied his character. That he successfully completed his homework is evidenced in “Jobs,” a biopic of Apple Inc.’s genius, who died two years ago. It might have been more compelling had it been pared down without trying to tell more than two decades in two hours. As it is, it’s still an interesting, if spotty, study of a fascinating man who changed everyday technology.
We first meet Steve Jobs when he has just dropped out of Reed College, where he still hangs around. He and his best friend Daniel Kottke (Lukas Haas) drop acid together. They also travel to India together.
Steve is a rambler who takes very little, including his multiple love interests, seriously. He is interested in computers, and partners with Steve Wozniak (Josh Gad) to make computers in the garage that belongs to Jobs' parents. According to the movie, the fledgling company is named on a whim while the two head toward a home-computer conference.
Eventually, after many futile calls from Jobs, an investor is found: Mike Markkula (Dermot Mulroney) provides the capital that Apple needs, and the little company becomes a big name. But all is not well within the company. The board of directors doesn’t appreciate Jobs’ temperamental, narcissistic behavior, and by the end of 1986, they oust him.
But 10 years later, the board is back, asking Steve Jobs to return. The rest, as they say, is history, as we watch a previously struggling company renewed with Jobs’ inventiveness and vision.
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I may be one of the few film critics who happened to be the instructor for a class of electronics majors the day before this movie opened. Not so coincidentally, I showed them a segment of the “Bloomberg Game Changers” series online (you can see it here for free at http://www.bloomberg.com/video/66625228-bloomberg-game-changers-steve-jobs.html)
Kutcher’s transformation into Jobs is incredible. He nails it from beginning to end, and of course the fact that he physically resembles Jobs is part of the reason the actor becomes lost in the character. But it’s more than that. Kutcher picks up on subtleties from the way Jobs gestured during news conferences to the way he held his head while sitting at a computer screen. He really deserves an Oscar nod for this.
The audience for the movie is limited, because the story of Steve Jobs simply won’t interest everyone. For those who want a glimpse — and this is only a glimpse —into the life of a complex innovator, it will be an enjoyable encounter.