Starring: Ashton Kutcher, Matthew Modine, Dermot Mulroney, Lukas Haas, Ahna O’Reilly, James Woods (Rated M – 128 min).
From the outset, audiences may question the choice of regular go to funny man, Ashton Kutcher in the lead role of Apple Computers founder Steve Jobs. Forget comical fluff like ‘Dude, where’s my car?’. As remarkable as it is for me to admit, Kutcher can act. Proving more than competent in the melodramatic thriller ‘Butterfly Effect’, he backs up that serious ability as the not particularly nice guy, Mr. Jobs.
Beginning with a speech unveiling the iPod to his employees, the film goes back in time to focus on his hippie college years and the early steps he took to create the now iconic Apple brand. Seen as a talent by some teachers, Jobs was considered a drop out by most of his peers but a student brimming with confidence. With more bright ideas than academic poise, he spots a personal computer hooked up to a television set devised by his campus roommate and future business partner Steve Wozniak (Josh Gad). As they say, the rest is history but the process of becoming one of the most influential people in the era of advanced technology was a bumpy ride to the top.
The film looks at various highly strung deals made, then lost and the reinvention of ingenious media marketing in order to convince consumers into buying items they might not actually need. Jobs loses sight of friends and the personal worries around him including an estranged daughter, the impact of his creations make other electronic companies scramble to keep up. His involvement with Pixar is not mentioned but his work for retro company Atari is. One of the best scenes of the entire film involves a phone argument Jobs has with none other than Microsoft boss Bill Gates accusing him of stealing from Apple. It’s a priceless moment of egos colliding.
There are some slow moments and as I mentioned, Steve Jobs is a hard person to like. Coming across greedy with ambition, it’s because he’s so personally confident and passionate regarding his vision. Botched boardroom takeovers by men in suits with no idea of how to communicate in an evolving corporate world of electronics don’t help matters. Jobs becomes a celebration of Apple rather than the man himself. Fans of veteran actor James Woods don’t blink, his appearance is nothing more than a glimpse.
Shane A. Bassett