It’s not easy to be Steve Jobs, nor is it easy to play Steve Jobs. Jobs features Ashton Kutcher, starring in the biographical drama film of Apple Computer’s co-founder, chairman, and CEO. Kutcher captures many of Job’s mannerisms, but perhaps exaggerates the perfectionist leader’s “charisma.” Steve Jobs is a great innovator, but also a real person that needs to deal with everyday life and personal relationships. Jobs is portrayed as a computer hero who beats IBM with Macintosh, and the ultimate leader of Apple with countless followers and big successes, despite his abrasive and arrogant personality.

It’s not easy to be Steve Jobs, nor is it easy to play Steve Jobs. Jobs features Ashton Kutcher, starring in the biographical drama film of Apple Computer’s co-founder, chairman, and CEO. Kutcher captures many of Job’s mannerisms, but perhaps exaggerates the perfectionist leader’s “charisma.” Steve Jobs is a great innovator, but also a real person that needs to deal with everyday life and personal relationships. Jobs is portrayed as a computer hero who beats IBM with Macintosh, and the ultimate leader of Apple with countless followers and big successes, despite his abrasive and arrogant personality.

For those who are not familiar with Jobs’ story, the film could be intriguing but confusing. It introduces how Apple starts in Jobs’ garage with his long-time business partner Steve Wozniak (Josh Gad) and a few others. But it’s unclear how Jobs comes to be an innovator in scenes that might have been set up as “inspiring moments”. There are snapshots of him traveling in India, and a scene where he drifts into a field and throws his arms to the sky. Whether it’s owing to the filmmaking or Kutcher’s interpretation, those settings seem to intentionally set Jobs apart from others, making him a unique individual before he even starts talking about computers.

There’s also not enough backgrounds on how Jobs comes up with his ideas for Apple II and Macintosh, both of which are novelties for the time, featuring user-friendly interfaces. What drives Job’s invention? What makes him deeply believes in connecting to the human heart with the right technology? How does he get the former Intel executive turned angel investor Mike Markkula (Dermot Mulroney) investing in Apple, despite working out of a garage with a motley crew of computer nerds?

Telling the story of an inventor is different from that of a hero. In The Social Network, we can see how Facebook was created, and how its creation is deeply connected to Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg)’s personal life story and those whom he interacted with. But in the film, Steve Job’s success with Apple and Mac seems unrelated to his life experiences, nor does it seem like he’s ever been inspired by people. It is ironic, how his products feature ease of use for people, but his career ideas are so isolated from other things in his life, including relationships with his girlfriend and daughter.

In the film, Jobs is oblivious to emotions, and it almost seems like this is partly how he achieves his success. He cannot work for nor can he work well with other people. He abandons several friends along the way, including his old time friend Daniel Kottke (Lukas Haas) and pregnant girlfriend Chris-Ann Brennan (Ahna O’Reilly). Macintosh is his revenge project after being thrown out of Apple’s Lisa project because of his hot temper and inexperience in business management. He is then officially dethroned by the board of directors when sales are plummeting, and leaves Apple for several years.

But Jobs still strongly believes in his perfectionism and never bothers to change his abrasive personality. He eventually gets married but family is never the center of his attention. He never negotiates with others; he’s always right. He gets rid of everyone on the board when he returns to Apple as a CEO, and that’s the lesson he learned instead of trying to work better with other people.

You wonder how the tech giant ever understands what people want, when he never pays attention to people around him. Steve Jobs is a great inventor, but his contribution to the world’s computer history, as we can see from his effective speeches when he introduces Apple II and Mac, should not dominate how we perceive him as a person, as someone we can look up to and actually learn from how he creates the well-loved Apple and how he manages a successful company. The film fails to dig deep into Jobs’ creative mind; sadly there’s not much you can learn from Jobs.

Running time: 125 min; Rated PG-13

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