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Jobs (Flack’s Review)

Posted on | August 27, 2013 | Add Comments

The garage team assembles in Jobs (2013)

4 Stars

Steve Jobs is one of, say, the five most important inventors of all time. On top of that, his story seems ripe for a silver screen biopic. It has despicable adversaries, tons of characters, romance, comedy, heartbreak, success, and failure. Most of all, it has a captivating central character who has anger issues, genius ideas, a bad temper, and the mind of a madman product maker. Sounds like a an Oscar bait role, right? And sounds like a good movie?

It’s surprising, then, that Jobs is the first major big screen adaptation of the man’s life. Therefore there’s little to compare it too, apart from the man’s life. Which is probably good thing. That’s because the film isn’t perfect. It starts with the introduction of the iPod and then skips backwards 40 years to show us twenty pivotal years in Steve’s life; we get a look at everything from the creation of the Apple 1 to his friendship with fellow techie Woz to the Macintosh to Job’s departure from Apple, then his return, and more. Despite negative reviews, the film is surprisingly good.

Ahston Kutcher as Steve Jobs in Jobs (2013)Ashton Kutcher’s fiery lead performance is the big reason the movie works. He’s intense and complex and sometimes funny and always riveting, even when we start to think “Okay, this is Ashton Kutcher paying Steve Jobs and maybe isn’t an ideal choice.”Kutcher has just enough dramatic chops (at least in this role) to seem believable, but his sense of humor and respect for the man he’s playing also help. Josh Gad is also wonderful as Steve “Woz” Wozniak, Job’s longtime best friend who helped co-found Apple; Gad has the perfect amount of restraint but also shows he could be a real star, if given the chance. The rest of the cast is a little stoic (though many of them are playing businessmen) but even the weaker ones get some great lines.

The one time I felt “Wow, this is a truly great movie” was when, midway through, Jobs and Wozniak have a talk I won’t give away here. both actors are phenomenal. Kutcher perfectly reacts by doing pretty much nothing, but Gad is the real knockout. I won’t say more, because of spoilers, but I will say this: this is one of the most heartfelt moments I’ve seen in a film this year.

Director Joshua Michael Stern makes some subtle, smart choices in terms of cinematography and dialogue, but occasionally (which is too often) it feels like he’d be better off at TV movies. On top of that, some scenes could’ve been edited and other landmark moments are skipped over entirely. The movie also doesn’t really tell us anything new abut the man at it’s core, nor does it ever really get to what made Jobs himself. It doesn’t have everything you might hope for but it’s got laughs, drama, and excitement to spare. And even in the moments where it does starts to drag, the movie is saved by the fact that the movie is telling the story of Steve Jobs. And it’s pretty hard to not make that story at least partly interesting.

Ahston Kutcher as an older Jobs in Jobs (2013)For all it’s faults, and there are faults, Jobs is a perfectly compatible biopic that does what it should without being anything more.  It’s a great summer version of all those awards-baits fare that is typically released in the Fall. It takes movies such as, say, a biopic like Lincoln and saps it of it’s historical precision and dramatic pretentiousness. Jobs is exactly what an action-movie sick person wants an August day; it’s light yet serious, fun but important. It may not think different but…well, I enjoyed myself.

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