This is pretty ironic, because Ashton Kutcher is well-known for playing bums who seriously need to get jobs, and now, he is, in fact, playing Jobs. ...Oh hush, like your expectations of respect for this film are high enough for you to really care that I just made a lame pun, because chances are that you don't even respect Steve Jobs that much, or at least you won't after watching this film. Steve, my man, I'm sorry that you're gone, as you made a lot of nifty nick-nacks, and I'm sure giving you a lot of credit for making nerds look cool, but wow, you were a bit of a jerk, so I guess Ashton Kutcher really is perfect to play you, as much as it pains me to admit it. Yes, people, I know how much Kutcher looks like a young Steve Jobs, but I don't find that reason enough to get Ashton Kutcher, of all people, to play in a film with this much artistic potential. Okay, fine, I do find some potential in Kutcher, but, I'm sorry, it's just too hard to look at him in the '70s and not think of dumb ol' Kelso from "That '70s Show", and it's even harder to look at him as a filthy-rich software genius and not think of "Two and a Half Men". Well, hold on, people, let's not go off and start making jokes about how they should have titled this "Schmidt" or something, because just looking at the level of creativity that went into naming Kutcher's Walden Schmidt character on "Two and a Half Men", alone, makes it hard to believe that the character is nearly as creative as Steve Jobs, and Jobs apparently just stole everyone's ideas. Seriously, people, Jobs wasn't entirely bad, being at least interesting enough to make for a decent film, if you can get past the fact that this biopic has almost as many flaws as Jobs did.
The subject matter covered in this film is certainly worthy and intriguing, but it's also a little familiar, even if you're somehow not all that familiar with the story of Steve Jobs, and screenwriter Matt Whiteley's trope-heavy interpretation of this story concept is just about as familiar as the subject matter itself, although that's not to say that this effort doesn't stand to associate you more with the characters and their sides of the story. Rushing is a problem in a lot of ways, particularly when it sees expository depth thinned down through limitations in immediate background information and even gradual characterization that make it hard, or rather, harder to get invested. Yeah, many supporting roles aren't especially compelling, and when it comes to Steve Jobs as a lead character, well, he's pretty unlikable, as this film has the sleaze of Jobs as both a corrupt businessman and overambitious, hard-hearted person emphasized too much, and no matter how charismatic Ashton Kutcher is, Jobs is too flawed to be all that compelling, as surely as storytelling is too tight for you to squeeze in enough investment to stand a chance of compensating for the compellingness which is shaken by problematic characterization. Rushing not only limits exposition, like I said, but kind of wears you down, leaving the film to border on monotonous as it breezes over its subject matter, establishing a certain blandness which goes exacerbated by, of all things, slow spells. The meandering moments found in Whiteley's script are near-aimless in their leaving storytelling to wander along material with an awkwardness that is made all the worse when dragging is broken by the aforementioned all-out hurrying, which thrusts unevenness along pacing that is about as disconcerting as the focal inconsistencies, which result from slam-bangs through Jobs' story that, as the plot thickens and gains more layers, make the narrative kind of hard to keep up with. Focus is so incoherent that, before too long, it starts to feel as though it dissipates, leaving the final product to meander along a familiar and uneven path, with a problematic character helm, until finally falling, not just short of potential, but deep into underwhelmingness. The film is not as compelling as it could have been, but neither is it as messy as it could have been, being more-or-less forgettable, sure, but well-done enough to engage, even visually, at least to a certain degree.
Well, perhaps Russell Carpenter's cinematography is sometimes near-amateur in its overstylization, but the arguably overt bite to lighting is sometimes stunning, and consistently lovely, as surely as the musical style impresses by its own right, for although the soundtrack is neither a unique nor an outstanding showcase of classic tunes from Steve Jobs' golden years, but it still offers plenty of enjoyable tunes. The soundtrack also helps in capturing tonal dynamics, or at least helps in establishing entertainment value, and for this, credit is due to director Joshua Michael Stern's usage of style, as well as other elements of storytelling. Stern can do only so much to comfortably handle a questionably structured narrative, and his directorial storytelling sometimes makes matters worse with its own issues, yet the subtle plays entertain and the occasional effective play on weightier aspects compel, though not without the help of the performers. To tell you the truth that you might have expected, the supporting performers do a more solid job of selling their characters' depths than the dramatically underdeveloped Ashton Kutcher does in his portrayal of a character who needs to be sold in order for you to get past the overwhelming flaws, but that's not to say that Kutcher is shabby, as he has a certain charisma, broken by some fair, if not pretty heavy dramatic layers. Kutcher is by no means as revelatory as one might have hoped, but he's still better than others might have feared, and his serviceable lead performance does a good bit in helping bring some engagement value to a flawed lead, and it helps that he's carrying subject matter which is intriguing through all of the grime over its depths. Again, conceptual intrigue goes watered down by conventional and uneven interpretations within an overblown script by Matt Whiteley that sometims actually underexplores the full depths of its subject matter, yet this meditation upon the humanly dramatic and intellectual business elements of Steve Jobs' story is still worthy enough, as well as, by decent, if improvable writing, direction and acting, sold enough to, at the very least, fascinate. I'm sure a much more fascinating interpretation of this story will come along, and when it does, I can't say that this film will be all that worth remembering, because as it stands, it's hardly anything special, no matter how much it wants to be, and yet, it's not as considerable of a misfire as it could have been, having enough juice and entertainment value to adequately engage, regardless of lost potential.
Overall, a formulaic, underdeveloped and unevenly paced and focused interpretation of a story that is really undercut by a rather unlikable lead is enough to drive the film quite decidedly short of its potential, but the decent cinematography, soundtrack, acting and directorial telling of a genuinely intriguing, if underexplored story concept are enough to make Joshua Michael Stern's "Jobs" an adequate, if somewhat sloppy tribute to the creative genius and human flaws of the late, gr-... well, late Steve Jobs (Again, he sure was a joke, but he makes for a decent film).
2.5/5 - Fair