Let’s Get Reel: Steve Jobs

Kevin Doyle ’16, Movie Columnist

Steve Jobs is one of several film biopics, the most recent being Ashton Kutcher’s critically panned Jobs. With Ashton Kutcher’s failure on everyone’s mind, a very talented team of Danny Boyle, Aaron Sorkin, and Michael Fassbender manage to pull together a convincing and engaging story that spans only two hours about a complex man. They mainly are able to pull off this herculean feat by narrowly focusing on three distinct product launches (like a play in three acts), a genius way to portray a man whose stage presence at these launches was one of the most memorable.

The movie starts with Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) frantically preparing for the launch of the Apple Macintosh with his faithful assistant Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet). A demo which is supposed to have the computer say “Hello” is malfunctioning and Jobs berates Apple technician Andy Hertzfield (Michael Stuhlbarg), in an attempt to inspire him to get it to work. Jobs also gets in an argument with cofounder Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen) and his ex-girlfriend Chrisann Brennan. Wozniak wants Jobs to recognize the Apple II team that is making the company most of its money. Brennan wants money from Jobs to support her and their child, Lisa (though Jobs remains adamant he is not the father).

The Apple Macintosh is a commercial failure and Jobs’ relationship with CEO John Sculley (Jeff Daniels) deteriorates, to the point where Steve Jobs is kicked out of Apple. The next part of Jobs’ life that is portrayed is when he launches NeXT Box with a new company that he has created. Again, he is confronted by the same characters and again he manages to infuriate all of them. It is revealed that he knows the NeXT Box will be a failure, but it is part of his scheme to get back into Apple management. In the final act of the film, Steve Jobs has indeed worked his way back into Apple and launches the revolutionary iMac computer.

Much of this movie will focus on Michael Fassbender’s performance and whether he encapsulated such a recognizable persona. Initially, many people were worried that Fassbender could not pull off the role simply because he really does not resemble Steve Jobs. While Fassbender is considerably more attractive than the balding and average-looking real-life Steve Jobs, his persona and energy do a fantastic job capturing the energy Steve Jobs had. It was so good that even Steve Wozniak says he felt like he was actually watching Steve Jobs on screen.

The script of this movie is its strength and weakness (a typical feature of Aaron Sorkin). While it definitely tones down many of the “Sorkinisms” (aka fast-paced impossibly witty intellectual banter), it still can sound a little preachy and unnatural at times. This is especially the case when the movie is trying to tug at the heartstrings and a character starts musing.

There are lots of other great things to say about this movie and other fantastic performances (Rogen and Winslet), so there is no doubt this movie will be much discussed into award season.