Ashton Kutcher is a fine comic actor. People forget that about him. His sitcom credentials are solid, even if you've never watched an episode of That '70s Show or Two and a Half Men. And he's been funny on the big screen, too. Ever seen Dude, Where's My Car? No? Well, then, you'll have to take my word that it's stupid-funny and that the former Mr. Demi Moore has no reason to feel ashamed of its place on his resume.
Ashton Kutcher is also very good at Twitter. He has over 14 million followers. And from watching his performance here as Steve Jobs it would be reasonable to assume that his ability to make even something terrible go viral is why he was hired to play a computer genius.
Like Scarface without the cocaine or the fun, Jobs is the story of the man who rose through the ranks of the mediocre and short-sighted to rule an industry, a highlight reel of extreme accomplishment and bitter personal trouble. Following Steve Jobs' life from his days as a college dropout (the first of many hilarious moments: watching Kutcher trip on LSD in a golden field with his arms outstretched to the sky, conducting his own private technology symphony) to the start of Apple in his parents' garage to his ascension and domination of the personal computer industry, these are his greatest hits. And that includes the minor-key bummers where he actively shuns his own children, fires employees who dare to ask the wrong question and coldly screws his less talented friends out of their cut of Apple stock like some kind of post-hippie Ayn Rand. You may love your Macbook, but according to this film its creator was a tool.
Director Joshua Michael Stern crams in as much incident as he can -- including a heavy dose of board meetings where guys in suits make super-exciting business decisions for stockholders -- confident that viewers already know everything about how Jobs changed the world, never once stopping to demonstrate the connection between the vision and the application. You've got your phone, don't you? That. Steve Jobs made that. But if you weren't fully aware of the man's life-altering creations then based on the information given here you'd be let off the hook for thinking that this too long and also too short exercise in dull biopic semi-competency is about a smarter Donald Trump in mom-jeans. The film presents a guy who likes to talk about heart and emotion and art while soaring "Great Man" music trumpets godlike achievement all around and his enemies fall like dominoes because they just aren't great enough themselves. That's he's played by Kutcher as a smirking, petulant jerk who ignores pleas for quality time written in crayon by his kids is just a value-added bonus.
But there are sporadic, infrequent and weird pleasures on screen: Josh Gad is the soul of the film as Jobs' sensitive, kind-hearted, right-hand man, Steve Wozniak. There's a Joe Walsh-soundtracked, slow-motion tribute to the sexy hand-made production of computer boards. Kutcher's impersonation of Jobs' shuffle-walk is an odd treat to witness. And the film's repeated reminders of Jobs' disdain for shoes amounts to repeated shots of its star's bare feet, a fetishistic display to rival Tarantino. Just keep your phone turned off while watching; the rest of this boring mess may tempt you to start Tweeting.