Steve Jobs - Aaron Sorkin, the Drama Queen
He is a talented writer, but I will confess to not being the biggest Aaron Sorkin fan in the world. He is definitely a Hollywood embellisher, and I think that sometimes works against him. It bothered me in THE WEST WING (while I understand why people like it, I just couldn’t get into it), but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed THE SOCIAL NETWORK. This reason, I think, is because Sorkin deconstructed Mark Zuckerberg, while at the same time it seemed aware of the dubious credibility of its source material. It was a smart look at how Americans have innovated in the 21st Century.
STEVE JOBS is not a bad movie. I was never bored while watching this film, and the general craft behind it is top-notch. It is a deeply flawed flick though, and not as good as Sorkin’s previous foray into this sort of material. One problem I think is that the inaccuracies don’t play as important a role, they’re just there to decorate the plot to make it more palatable. Of course, inaccuracies are inevitable, but doing them deliberately is boring.
The film follows Jobs (a pitch-perfect Michael Fassbender) through three different product openings; one for the Macintosh in 1984, another for the NEXT Cube in 1988, and the final one for the iMac in 1998. During the preparations for these three openings, Jobs has confrontations with all the people in his life. Those are Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen, also near-perfect), Apple’s cofounder, John Sculley (Jeff Daniels, who could do this in his sleep), the CEO of Apple at that time, and Jobs’ babymama, Chris-Ann Brennan (Katherine Waterston). Eventually the film follows Jobs into becoming the success we know now.
A big problem I have with STEVE JOBS is that the embellishments turn what should be a smart movie about smart people into theater. You can’t shake the feeling that you’ve seen some of what’s in the film in other movies, and that you’ve seen it done better. There is probably a way to adapt STEVE JOBS in a way that is both interesting and faithful to the Walter Isaacson book of the same name, but Sorkin isn’t interested in that.
The movie is fine otherwise, I liked how the cinematography changed with the decades. Danny Boyle shows a confident hand as a director, the acting is uniformly excellent, and I can’t say I was ever bored. I was sometimes frustrated, but the craft behind STEVE JOBS kept me engaged. It’ll probably make the rounds during awards season, so you may very well end up seeing it later (it’s poised to flop, making less money than the Ashton Kutcher JOBS, It’s not THAT bad guys). You could stand to rent it, or see it at a matinee price.