Steve Jobs built a cult following for Apple around the creation of innovative products like the personal computer, music player, mobile phone, and tablet. Products that people didn’t even know they needed. We know a lot of the recent Apple history, but what many people may not know is the original story of Apple. Last Thursday in Washington, DC, I had the opportunity to see the JOBS movie, starring Ashton Kutcher, which shares the early Apple history of Steve Jobs and his life from 1971 to 2000 and paints a picture of Steve Jobs that many may not know. The official trailer is below. The film was followed by a special Q&A session with JOBS director Joshua Michael Stern and actor Josh Gad. The JOBS film opens in theaters August 16th.
Based off Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, the JOBS film serves as a prequel to the Steve Jobs that many of us have come to recognize. The story dives in at an Apple Town Hall with a graying and half balding Steve Jobs, played by Ashton Kutcher, as he introduces their first personal music device, the iPod. Kutcher’s performance playing Jobs is fantastic, allowing the audience to fully absorb his character. After seeing him as JOBS, it’s hard to believe that he also starred in Dude Where’s My Car. From there, the film jumps backwards in time to share Jobs’ college life and then brings us all the way through to the more recent resurrection of the company, becoming the most valuable company in the world. The backstory of the early years of Apple introduced us to Steve “Woz” Wozniak, played by Josh Gad, who invented the first two Apple personal computers, as well as the rest of the early Apple team as they work out of Steve’s parents’ garage to start Apple Computer.
While many consumers love Steve Jobs and Apple for what they have been able to create, the film also shows the not-so-lovable side of Jobs as a harsh dictator and even an asshole, as he was characterized by industry colleagues in the film. It’s clear Jobs was driven and would stop at nothing to create amazing products.
Overall, the film offers an inspirational story as it shows just how difficult starting a company can be. It also reminds us of Apple’s humble beginnings long before it ever captured its current position as one of the most innovative and profitable companies in the world. But my only qualm was how much the story left out and jumped around to focus only on Steve’s involvement at Apple, leaving out much detail about Steve’s personal life and other ventures, even skimming over his co-founding of Pixar and revolutionizing how movies are made, which left the film a bit disjointed.
When director Joshua Michael Stern was asked about these items in a post-screening Q&A, he explained that they did shoot a lot more footage but found it difficult to include everything as they tried to keep it within a two-hour timeframe. He explained that each story could steer the film another fifteen minutes into another direction. He simply defined their creation of the JOBS film by saying:
“It’s about a man and a company and how they became one.”
He also explained that Steve Jobs was a very private man, so family relationships and such would have been hearsay rather than fact.
Act0r Josh Gad, who played a very professor-like Woz, also shared some insights in saying that he never got a chance to meet or talk to Woz in his time preparing or playing him in the film. Woz was outwardly vocal about his portrayal and the accuracy of some of the events that painted Steve as the computer visionary rather than Woz (who invented the first two Apple machines), but he also understood that this film is for entertainment more than accuracy.
In the end, Steve Jobs was a shrewd businessman and salesman – quite possibly the most amazing salesman who has ever lived – and the JOBS film is a must-see movie for those who want to better understand the story behind some of the technological advances and devices we rely on everyday.