By Eleanor Ringel Cater
“Jobs” isn’t a chore.
Unfortunately, that’s hardly a recommendation. What’s lacking in this biography of the man who made Apple is that sense of having learned something about who he was or even a hint of why he did what he did.
“The Social Network,” which so adroitly picked through the entrails of the young Mark Zuckerberg, is the benchmark these days for this sort of movie.
“Jobs” feels more routine, less organic. We get an “and then this happened” chronicle instead of getting under the skin of an admittedly complex hero-bastard.
It’s possible I enjoyed “Jobs” more than others might because I knew so little of his story. I had heard of the fat guy (read: Steve Wozniak) who was the real genius behind Apple. And I’d heard the fat guy didn’t like “Jobs.” (The movie and, maybe, the man).
Well, I don’t blame him. Though he’s played with a self-enfacing sweetness by Josh Gad, he can’t help but come off as the computer dork lucky enough to briefly catch a ride on the flashy coattails of the entrepreneurial master, Steve Jobs (Ashton Kutcher)
However, at least we know who he is and what his place is in the Apple saga. Otherwise, too many characters drift in and out of the story.
Some are minions, discarded by Jobs; others are power types, also discarded by Jobs, but who get their chance to discard him right back (of these, Dermot Mulroney and Matthew Modine are the most entertaining).
If you’re familiar with Jobs’ story, you may be more than a bit surprised by the great chunks taken out of his story. Say, the Pixar connection.
Conversely, what is one to make of the girlfriend who has his child (whom he refuses to acknowledge), drops out of the movie for an hour or so, then turns back up for the happy-family finale? (The picture ends well before Jobs is diagnosed with the pancreatic cancer that would kill him in 2011)
I don’t think Kutcher is the problem. He looks remarkably like Jobs and even adapts the man’s distinctive lope. But while the movie doesn’t come off as a vanity project for the actor, it doesn’t come off as much of anything else either.