Sundance review: 'jOBS' says nothing new about Apple founder Steve Jobs
It's not until three-quarters of the way into "jOBS," the highly anticipated biopic of Apple icon Steve Jobs, that we get the first honest glimpse of the man many would call the greatest entrepreneur who ever lived.
It's in a small scene when Jobs, played by Ashton Kutcher, reveals the now-famous "1984" Macintosh commercial to a room full of employees, and Kutcher perfectly captures the charisma and drive behind Jobs' eyes.
But that flash of the real spirit and soul of Jobs is sadly lacking in the rest of the film, which premiered Friday as the closing night movie of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival in Park City.
That's likely going to disappoint those who want to know more than just a telling of Job's early career.
Still there's good news for those who've been waiting to see how the lanky co-star of "Two and a Half Men" does as Jobs they can somewhat breathe a sigh of relief. He's not the casting disaster that some thought he might be.
Kutcher does competent work of replicating Jobs' moves, from his walk to his wiry, toothless grin. In fact, from the neck up, Kutcher bears a remarkable resemblance to the Apple founder throughout Jobs' career (though Kutcher is much too tall).
But what Kutcher can't seem to nail is that spark of creativity and foresight that elevated Jobs as a great entrepreneur.
Most of that fault doesn't lie with Kutcher, but with director Joshua Michael Stern ("Swing Vote"), who never gives his actor the scene that conveys Jobs' soul and creative skill, instead opting to focus on his well-known temper and corporate backstabbing.
Stern and first-time screenwriter Matt Whiteley deliver a straightforward re-telling of the early years of the formation of Apple from a basement startup to Jobs' return to Apple as interim CEO in the 1990s.
And it crams in as many details as it can possibly tell in its two-hour length: Jobs' partnership with Steve Wozniak (Josh Gad, who does a better job portraying the fun-loving "Woz"), Jobs' unwillingness to acknowledge his daughter, the infamous flare-ups in the boardroom, his ousting by onetime Apple CEO John Sculley (Matthew Modine), and his creative relationship with Apple designer Jonathan Ive.
It's too much historical retelling of what Apple and Jobs fans already know through scores of interviews and Walter Isaacson's best-selling biography. What they instead want to know is what really makes this business showman tick.
"jOBS," which will land in movie theaters around the country on April 19, tells us what we already know when we're begging to know so much more.
Steve Jobs helped define a generation of technology lovers and he did it his way, with an undeniable flair that no one else possessed. That's the movie that Jobs' followers want to see.
Two and a half stars (out of four)