Steve Jobs biopic receives mixed reviews

Ashton Kutcher as Apple founder Steve Jobs.
Photo courtesy of the Sundance Institute 

After its awaited premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, the indie-produced film about the iconic man behind Apple drew both positive and negative reactions on the web.

jOBS, directed by Joshua Michael Stern and penned by Matt Whiteley, stars Ashton Kutcher together with Josh Gad as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Dermot Mulroney as Apple’s second CEO, Mike Markkula.

The film has been highly controversial, particularly because of the casting of the lead role. Folks online have been cringing at the thought of Kutcher playing the Silicon Valley big shot, saying that he may not be able to give justice to the role, unlike Noah Wyle who played Jobs in the 1999 made-for-TV biopic, Pirates of Silicon Valleyand whose portrayal was commended by Jobs himself.

Casey Newton of CNET, however, lauds Kutcher, saying, that he “throws himself into the role, inhabiting Jobs in his mannerisms and gestures while doing a more than creditable impression of the man’s voice.” Seth Kinkaid of Gizmodo, meanwhile, commends the entire cast, saying, “Whoever did the casting for this film deserves an award. All the actors looked like their parts, and I would later learn that the director had each one passionately go over their characters’ history.”

Even before the film was shown in Sundance, Steve Wozniak aired his disapproval of the portrayal of Jobs and himself by Kutcher and Gad upon seeing a preview clip of the film (above) on the Internet. “We never had such interaction and roles,” Wozniak told Gizmodo. “I’m not even sure what it’s getting at…personalities are very wrong although mine is closer.” The preview shows the scene where Jobs tries to convince Wozniak of the potential of the “operating system.”

Similarly, Justin Chang of Variety comments: “Despite the superficial physical resemblance between actor and subject, enhanced by thick glasses, longish hair and an impressive attempt at vocal mimickry on Kutcher’s part, the illusion never fully seizes hold.”

Erik Kohn of Indiewire sees the film as lacking compared to the Fincher-directed and Sorkin-penned The Social Network and says that jOBS plays safe.

Conversely, though, Matthew Panzarino, in his review on TNW, claims that jOBS actually works for him. “This isn’t going to be the canonical Steve Jobs biography movie. Honestly, Jobs was such a complex individual that I can’t see one ever being made. But, as an impressionist portrait of a specific period in his life, it’s successful. Don’t go into it looking for complete verisimilitude or whip-crack dialog and you should like it just fine,” he writes.

Kutcher as Jobs (left) and Gad as Wozniak (right)
Photo courtesy of The Jobs Movie on Facebook

The Verge‘s Ross Miller sees jOBS as neither revolutionary nor terrible, saying, “It’s not quite the Academy Award-winning epic fans might be hoping for, but at the same time, it’s far from being the disaster you might’ve feared.” Vince Horiuchi of The Salt Lake Tribune claims that jOBS did not show anything other than what the people already know about the Apple founder.

Mashable reports that reactions to the film also emerged on Twitter, which, too, are a mix of both positive and negative comments.

jOBS is set to be released in April, according to one of the film’s distributors, Open Road Films, so it’ll be quite a while before we get to raise our own ayes and nays. In the meantime, here are some scenes that you might be able to get a glimpse of when you see the film—Jobs’ keynote speeches for the unveiling of the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad.