Jan 13

jOBS movie: lowered expectations alert

The first Steve Jobs movie is almost upon us. The indie film titled jOBS will debut as the closing act at Sundance tonight, and will appear in theaters on April 19th.

There are conflicting signs about the quality of what we might expect.

Let’s start with the positive. A colleague who was close to Steve recently attended a pre-screening of the film, and he thought it was a lot of fun to watch. It was good to see the Apple story getting its time on the big screen.

He did, however, add an important disclaimer: if you knew Steve, you’ll likely feel that the Ashton Kutcher’s portrayal is “one-dimensional.” Kutcher exhibits one facet of Steve’s personality per scene, while the real Steve was a deeper, more complex person.

The rest of us will have to wait a few months to see for ourselves. For now, we can only look at what’s already been revealed.

For starters, we have the odd title. Most people respond to the strange lower-casing of the “j” with a head-scratch. If that’s supposed to reference Apple’s ubiquitous lower-case “i,” it’s a pretty oblique reference.

With this being the second try at a title after the original Jobs: Get Inspired, I’m feeling like these guys are 0-for-2 in the naming department.

But those are just words. Now, for the first time, we have a concrete indication of what this movie will be like, thanks to the teaser just released by the producers.

If this official clip is indicative of the movie’s overall quality, I’m officially lowering my expectations.

I’m doing so for two reasons. First, the Wozniak character looks and sounds over-the-top comedic, more like a caricature of a nerd than a real one.

Second, the dialogue tries way too hard. Visionaries don’t ordinarily spout their vision in such a ham-fisted way. This dialog is more Pirates of Silicon Valley quality than The Social Network quality. Screenwriter Matt Whitely is no Aaron Sorkin — this movie being his first and only appearance in the Internet Movie Database.

Of course we have to remember that a movie like jOBS is intended to be entertainment, not a history lesson. The writer, whether named Whitely or Sorkin, isn’t out to create a 100% accurate picture of the main character. He’s trying to create 90 minutes of entertainment based loosely on that character.

For now, we must sit tight awaiting the premiere of jOBS on April 19th. Only then can we start asking the really important question: “Would Steve have approved this movie?”

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  • CB

    I think the “j” comes from Steve’s signature … all lowercase. Why they decided on “OBS” for the rest of it will need to be discovered (or not).

  • CB

    Do search on Twitter for #sundance #jOBS for reactions tonight.

  • estragon_nyc

    There wasn’t really any room left for my expectations to get any lower, though that clip made a strong effort in that direction. It seems to come from the school of biographical filmmaking (skewered so perfectly by the underrated comedy film Walk Hard) in which characters keep delivering perfectly on the nose dialogue to make sure even the slowest person in the audience doesn’t miss the significance of each moment. But that’s exactly what I always expected based on the title alone. “Oooh, Steve Jobs is famous for naming things starting with a lower case letter, so we’ll start his NAME with one! Get it? Get it?” That’s the full extent of their inventiveness.

  • They’ve changed the title to JOBS, with a capital J.


  • ksegall

    Aha! Good decision. Guess they got enough feedback to change course.

  • darlaj

    I can’t stop cringing.

  • Miss you, Ken! Wishing you could post more. Maybe we need Apple to come up with some interesting and controversial ads to spur you on?

  • ksegall

    Thanks for noticing! Truth is, I’m just coming out of an incredibly busy three-month period. The posts will start becoming more frequent now. I hope…