Ashton Kutcher in a still from Steve Jobs biopic Jobs.
A biopic on the renowned Apple founder was never going to be easy and yet most critics feel cheated and disappointed about Jobs. Ironically, it's not the fact that Ashton Kutcher doesn't live up to the expecations, but in fact, the details (or the lack of it) of the tech stalwart's personal life that didn't work for the critics.
Michael O’Sullivan of The Washington Post writes, "Directed by Joshua Michael Stern (Swing Vote) and written by first-time screenwriter Matt Whiteley, Jobs confuses the story of Apple, the company, with the story of its guru and guiding force, spending way too much time on backroom personnel dealings than on encounters that might help us understand, on a deep level, the title character...Focusing on those details, Jobs gives short shrift to the story’s human side."
AP's Sandy Cohen too, has the same grouse. "Jobs aims to be the first biopic about tech giant Steve Jobs, but instead of offering insight into the man, it’s a chronology of Apple and the advent of personal computers." She adds, "While it's interesting to see the history of Apple and how Jobs' singular determination was crucial to its success, the history of a company isn't as compelling as the history of a person, especially one as complex, innovative and influential as Steve Jobs."
Manohla Dargis of the New York Times opens her review with a hilariously ironic sentence. "It would drive Steve Jobs nuts to know that the new movie about his life has all the sex appeal of a PowerPoint presentation. It isn’t only that PowerPoint has become synonymous with the dry, dreary, droning of corporate meetings or that it’s an application developed by Microsoft, itself a favorite target of Jobs."
Panning director Stern's work, Dargis writes, "The greater blame rests on the filmmakers, who never find a way to navigate the 'passions, perfectionism, demons, desires, artistry, devilry and obsession for control' that Walter Isaacson enumerated in Steve Jobs, his 2011 authorized biography."
The Hollywood Reporter's Justin Lowe writes, "Stern’s directing style represents an extension of this reverential approach, bathing Jobs’ early years in a pervasive golden hue while shifting the blocking in later scenes to emphasize Jobs at all costs."
Surprise praise for Kutcher
Interestingly, Ashton Kutcher, who received a considerable amount of flak for filling in shoes (Charlie Sheen's in Two And A Half Men) in the past, has received some fairly nice reviews of his performance. The actor is believed to have played the various facets of Jobs with equal ease and conviction.
"Kutcher does a couple of things well, aping Jobs’s guarded, tight-lipped smile and familiar, half-hunching, half-bouncing gait, even if at times they seem more like ill-fitting mannerisms than expressions of Jobs’s driven personality," writes Michael O’Sullivan.
Peter Travers of The Rolling Stone talks about everyone's biggest fear. "Casting Ashton Kutcher as Apple's mercurial trailblazer, Steve Jobs, could have backfired big-time. It's one thing being the highest-paid sitcom star on TV, another for Charlie Sheen's replacement on Two and a Half Men to find the gravitas to play a computer-and-marketing visionary pursued by personal and professional demons. Kutcher nails the genius and narcissism. It's a quietly dazzling performance."
Sandy Cohen writes, "Ashton Kutcher plays Jobs convincingly enough. The Two and a Half Men star looks uncannily like the Apple co-founder, right down to the lumbering gait, and there's no trace of Kutcher's kooky-character past here."