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The saga of
Steve Jobs is as familiar to the present generation as the lore surrounding
such historic figures as Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison. That places
even greater pressure on the people behind this film to engage us and—even more
important—illuminate key elements of the story. Sorry to say, they don’t.

The film
works best early on, because the genesis of a great idea is always the most
interesting part. Watching how the young, ambitious college drop-out uses his
wits and his wiles to develop an exciting idea and bring it to life—with his
pal Steve Wozniak (Josh Gad) and a motley team of recruits in his parents’
garage—is great fun.

But as soon
as the film leaves this early period behind for the boardroom politics of Apple
and Jobs’ failures as a boyfriend, father, and friend, it begins to resemble an
old-fashioned Hollywood biopic. It’s smoothly done, under Joshua Michael
Stern’s direction, but we know most of the story already, and while Ashton
Kutcher does a decent job in the leading role, there is no layering to Matt
Whiteley’s writing or the star’s earnest performance.

When it’s
all over, we haven’t learned much or been left with anything to chew on except
the price of success in today’s version of the American dream. Jobs resembles a
competent TV movie but never penetrates the thought process that made its
protagonist so dynamic, so driven, or so ruthless.

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