We’ve recently seen the first minute of footage from jOBS, the biographical firm about Steve Jobs with Ashton Kutcher. I’m not sure if Casey Newton saw the whole movie, but he writes for CNET a ‘review’ and makes a good case for certainly the film’s main pitfall.
Yet the filmmakers are more interested in showing Jobs going about the work of being a genius. Over and over again, minor characters explain to him why something can’t be done; Kutcher-as-Jobs smiles enigmatically and waves away their concerns. (It is left to someone else, far off screen, to turn his visions into reality.) We watch Jobs out-negotiate a computer parts store owner, lecture the team making the Lisa, and ride to the rescue of the Macintosh. Each time, he speaks of how the technology Apple is building will improve the lives of average people. Co-workers argue with him, but they never get anywhere, because their parts are poorly written and the filmmakers have no interest in showing their subject being wrong about his work. The film mentions Lisa’s failure but has no interest in what part Jobs played in that failure; all Apple failures in “jOBS” are portrayed as the result of conservative, backward-thinking executives beholden only to their shareholders. The result is that the viewer spends two hours watching cardboard cutouts lose arguments to Ashton Kutcher.
My fear indeed is that the film forgets the context of Jobs’ decisions. We look in 2013, knowing Apple’s success, at what he did and his decisions look natural when they were in fact very risky. I wish the film would explain that, show how crazy some of his ideas seemed at the time and also how inaccurate some were. I’m afraid the film will depict him as an always-right genius who faced backward-thinking people all the time. It is a bit more complicated than that.