Ashton Kutcher in ‘Jobs’, Netflix Watch Instant Review

Ashton KutcherJobs, starring Ashton Kutcher, Josh Gad and Dermot Mulroney, about the life of Apple founder, Steve Jobs,  is now available to watch instantly on Netflix, and although the reviews when the movie was in theaters were not great, it is still worth watching through the streaming service. Firstly, the casting for the movie was excellent. At the very end of the movie they show pictures of all the real people next to the characters, and they all look identical. Kutcher too disappears into the character, especially from a distance. The opening scene of Jobs is a town hall meeting on Apple’s campus in Palo Alto, California in 2001, and Kutcher paces back and forth on stage, perfectly mimicking the Apple founder’s mannerisms. Paired with his wardrobe, it is hard to tell it is not the man, until Kutcher speaks. He is a very famous and recognizable, so it is not completely his fault, but still, it is hard not to see Kutcher behind the make-up. He changes his speech patterns slightly, putting emphasis on the last word of every sentence like Jobs did, but when the emotional scenes hit, Kutcher employs his usual acting habits that remind the viewer who is playing the title role. The opening scene depicts the release of the ipod, then the movie jumps back in time to the 1970’s. Watching through Netflix instant, Jobs times in at two hours and seven minutes long, and as the description says, the movie reviews three decades of the Apple founder’s life, and says Ashton Kutcher gives a tour de force performance, as he appears in every single scene.

After the cold open, the movie starts in 1974 at Reed College, where a young Steve Jobs is sleeping on a couch in a campus common area. Again, Kutcher looks exactly like Jobs with his hair messy, wearing used jeans and no shoes. He walks out to the quad and the audience finds out that he has dropped out of college and now just hangs around, sometimes attending classes even though he is not enrolled. When asked why he dropped out, Jobs says that schools are a system and only turn out products, not fostering uniqueness. This is a theme throughout the movie as the film’s writer and director hammer, over and over again, that Jobs is a rebel, and does not want to be dragged down by “the man.”

Cat Steven’s Peace Train presides over the opening scene, which follows Jobs around the quad, meeting a random girl who he sleeps with, then takes three hits of acid from her, explaining they are for his friend and girlfriend, then the three of them are in a field, tripping on acid and Jobs is walking through a wheat field, like he sees the world clearly for the very first time. It is a bit of a stretch, but it once again shows Jobs as a rebel that is going to change the world. They quickly flash Jobs taking a computer and calligraphy class, hinting at why he makes his products so visually appealing.

The movie jumps next to 1976 and Jobs is working at Atari, the video game company, yelling at his co-worker (Masi Oka from Heros) because the game is not in color. This scene hints at what is to come, showing Jobs as a volatile employee who does not like to be told what to do. Off of this outburst he is given his own project at Atari, to be paid $5,000 once it is completed, and has to get the help of Steve Wozniak, played by Josh Gad, a friend of his to help him put together the game’s main frame computing board. He tells Wozniak that he is only being paid $700 and they will split it, to which he accepts. This shows that Jobs really only cares about himself, control and money.

While Wozniak is helping, Jobs sees he is working on something else; the first personal computer. This is when the movie starts to pick up and the story that everyone knows about Steve Jobs takes off. Jobs basically forces his way into the project and takes over as the leader. He convinces Wozniak that this is the future, which it is, and they present the personal computer to the Homebrew Computer Club, at Stanford University. They only get one offer from a computer parts store owner and they set up shop in Job’s parents garage.

After the order becomes too daunting, Jobs enlists the help of other friends to work for them. Joe Walsh’s, Life’s Been Good So Far presides over this part of the movie as they make their mainframes, and upon delivery the computer parts man says he wanted the full package, not just a mainframe board. He wanted the board, the monitor, and keyboard all in one, something easy that the consumer can just plug-in. This is where Jobs gets the idea for the Apple 2.

While building the Apple 2, Jobs starts to get very angry that they can not find investors, even yelling at one of his friends because they are not showing the same passion he has. This is another theme of the movie, that Jobs views himself as a very passionate person with a vision, only he wants others to show the same type of passion for his vision. He is not a collaborator, rather, he is someone who tells others what to do. Mike Markkula, played by the great Dermot Mulroney, shows up at Apple one day, which is headquartered in a garage, and says he wants to invest in Apple, agreeing to give them $90,000 and a $250,000 credit. This gives Jobs the backing to create his vision, it also gives him a perceived ally, someone else who believes in what he does.

At the 1977 West Coast Computer Fair in San Francisco, Jobs gives his first presentation to the media, presenting the Apple 2 personal computer, and that is when Apple takes off. Now that Jobs is rich and running his own company, his true colors start to show. He fires the best programmer they have because he tells Steve that what he is asking for cannot be done. At a business lunch with Markkula and a board member, Jobs decides not to give preferred stock to his friends that helped him start Apple in his garage, because they are expendable and should not have any say in the company; only Wozniak gets stocks.

By 1980 Apple is a huge company and has its campus in Cupertino, California. Ashton Kutcher, playing the cool Steve Jobs, whips his nice sports car into the parking lot, parks in a handicap spot and instantly jumps out, not reviewing what he just did, like a rebel without a cause; this implies that on Jobs’ watch, Apple is a hip company, like a Netflix today. Around the 50 minute mark, Jobs shaves his beard and puts on a suit, telling Wozniak he has grown up. Jobs become exactly what he never wanted to become, a product, as Billy Walsh from Entourage would say, a “suit.”

This is the point where Jobs starts to spin out of control. He is demanding, stubborn and is spending all the companies money; he takes out a full-page ad in a newspaper to insult IBM at one point. The board of directors does not like what he is doing and decreases his role at the company. They force him to work on an R&D project called, Macintosh. Just like everything else he does, his rebellious nature comes out and he recruits the best people from all over the company to work on the Macintosh with him and he spends more money than he has before. Jobs goes to the board of directors and says he wants John Sculley (Matthew Modine) to be the next CEO of Apple. He was CEO of Pepsi and has a marketer’s mind, capable of bringing Apple to the top. This proves to be a fatal flaw for Jobs, trusting that someone corporate shares his vision.

In 1984 Jobs presents the Macintosh, but is told by the board that they have to sell it at double the price. The new CEO, John Sculley, is the one who decides this. It kills the Macintosh, no one can afford it. In no time the Mac is not selling, the stock is plummeting and Apple is looking at its first quarterly loss ever. Jobs blames Sculley outright for this. After the meeting Sculley tells him he cannot protect him if he keeps doing this. Parts like this in the movie portray Jobs as a stubborn child. Someone who does not conform, but in a bad way. He does not listen to reason, only caring about himself.

While Boots of Spanish Leather by Bob Dylan plays, Wozniak comes into Jobs’ office late one night and tells him that he is quitting. He sites when they started the only care was about making something cool that everyone would want. Now all Jobs cares about is the product. His world starts and stops with himself and it is so small and sad. His vision is turning him into his own worst enemy as he not only gets in other’s way, but his own. Kutcher continues to mold into the character, changing his walk at this point, displaying the older Steve Jobs, with a slight hunch. Jobs is called into the board room one day and finds out that the board has voted him out of his own company, leaving Sculley in charge; not even Markkula votes for him.

After Jobs leaves the movie shows him gardening in his yard, literally going back to his roots. He has created his own operating system called ‘Next’ and Apple is plummeting. Sculley is out and a new man, Gil Amelio (played perfectly by Kevin Dunn) is the new CEO. Apple buys Next and convinces Jobs to come back. He accepts a role as consultant to Amelio and on his first day he walks around the new Apple complex, looking for ways to change it, like a praying mantis; slightly bent forward with his hands together. At this point he meets some designers that give him the idea for the sleek design that Apple is known for today. In the end the board comes to Jobs and says they want him back as CEO, to which he accepts on the condition that he is a voting board member and can basically do whatever he wants; they give it to him.

Jobs essentially does the same thing to Gill that happened to him, ousting him behind his back. Again, this represents Jobs as being very childlike, as someone who is not right to lead and does not learn from his mistakes. Apple becomes profitable again and Jobs decides to eradicate all the board members, letting Markkula go last; a sort of revenge move, a sign that Jobs held deep grudges. In the final scene Jobs is in a sound booth, a la, Val Kilmer in The Doors, recording his voice into a microphone. He says, anyone can change life, and we all should try to change it, not just live in it. The ones that are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do.

The movie revolved around many themes in Jobs’ life, mostly his controlling and stubborn nature, which is his greatest asset and weakness. The movie paints Steve Jobs as being a visionary, but also as someone just barking orders. Jobs believed that board members should not be in charge of corporations, the creators should be. Most of Jobs’ problems came from those higher than he, telling him what to do. It raises an interesting question that should be reflected upon today, especially with big business having so much power; who really should run a company? Board members and most CEO’s only care about one thing: the stock holder’s money. They largely do not have visions for companies, they only know what will sell and what will not. The creators of companies, the innovators like Jobs, are the ones that have the best interest of the companies at heart. Only they do not have the business mind to understand the logistics of how to get something done, they are more concerned about the why. Throughout the movie Jobs was portrayed as someone who does not listen to authority and has to get his own way. The battle between founder and managers, i.e., creatives versus businesses, was one that was waged between Jobs and the world the entire movie. In the end there has to be an understanding between creator and manager, which Jobs does when he becomes both; CEO and acting Board Member. Jobs aptly portrays the pitfalls of a visionary learning to accept forces in the world, other than his own, and dealing with the costs of getting there. Overall, Jobs is worth watching instantly on Netflix as Ashton Kutcher is good enough, looks just like Steve Jobs (he becomes the character most when he has a beard), and the story reviews the Apple founder’s life in a slow moving, detailed and thought-provoking way. 

Opinion by Chris Dragicevich

Sources:

Netflix

IMDB

Rotten Tomatoes

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