Ashton Kutcher looks the part in Jobs. Wearing wire-rims and a beard and carrying himself with a stooped, marionette-like gait, the actor tries on the guise of Steve Jobs, the 1970s college dropout turned new-millennium computer company billionaire.
It's an American success story of epic proportions, but Joshua Michael Stern's biopic of the Apple co-founder is hardly epic.
This is not The Social Network (although Jobs, like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, burned bridges and turned his back on some of his closest colleagues).
Jobs is a just-the-facts - and fiddling-with-the-facts - dramatization, forgoing any kind of deeper psychological exploration of the man and his motivations, his demons and dreams.
The Jobs of Jobs comes off as restless and selfish, dropping acid, exploring Eastern spiritualism, uneasy in the workplace environment, more comfortable in his parents' garage, where he and his tech genius pal, Steve Wozniak (Josh Gad), first soldered circuit boards and dreamed up the idea of combining "your typewriter with your television set."
"Imagine!" Jobs says, flexing his marketing muscles even back then.
Rolling through the last three decades of the 20th century, Jobs follows the ups and downs of the electronics entrepreneur's career, spending too much of its time detailing the boardroom power plays and comings and goings of Apple CEOs (John Sculley, Gil Amelio). If the bonds and betrayals are Shakespearean, they fail to come off as such.
There is another Jobs film in the works, based on Walter Isaacson's biography and with The Social Network's Oscar-winning screenwriter, Aaron Sorkin, doing the adaptation. It'll be years before that gets made - if and when it does. But the comparison could be instructive.
In the meantime, we have Kutcher as Jobs, eyes darting, hands flying, lumbering around the Apple campus, impelling his designers and engineers to do more, to think outside the box, to invent new boxes.
He, and they, did that, of course. Apple's products have changed the way we live and communicate. I guess that's reason enough to make a movie about the guy.
Jobs **1/2 (Out of four stars)
Directed by Joshua Michael Stern. With Ashton Kutcher, Josh Gad, Matthew Modine, J.K. Simmons, and Dermot Mulroney. Distributed by Open Road Films.
Running time: 2 hours, 2 mins.
Parent's guide: PG-13 (profanity, drugs, adult themes)
Playing at: area theaters
Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @Steven_Rea. Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at www.inquirer.com/onmovies.