Ashton Kutcher called the starring role scary and seemed to have an appropriate amount of reverence for the subject matter. However, reviewers seemed to have mixed feelings at best about the movie.
TNW’s Matthew Panzarino liked the movie and called it entertaining but inaccurate:
But, overall, jOBS works. The lead actors are likable and appear to have put serious effort into getting the spirit of the characters right. The film looks (mostly) good aside from some of what could likely be ascribed to budgetary constraints. And though the director is a tad indulgent here and there, it doesn’t take away from the overall feeling of ‘decent’ that I came away with.
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.
My primary disappointment was in how shallow the film felt, given the extensive historical record. In the early days Jobs’ co-workers had to wrestle with a man who smelled bad, who cried often, who yelled constantly, who missed deadlines, who overspent his budget by millions. He did it in service of products we love and use daily, and yet his obsessions took a toll on those around him. It also inspired others to do the best work of their lives, pushing themselves further than they ever imagined they can go. There is great drama to be found in all that, but it is not to be found in the saccharine “jOBS.”
USA Today relayed some weirdness before the shooting:
Kutcher says that he started a fruit-only diet to prepare to play the Apple co-founder for the biopic Jobs, which premiered Friday night at the Sundance Film Festival.
The diet, which the film claims Jobs adhered to, ended up sending Kutcher to the hospital with pancreas problems.
“First of all, the fruitarian diet can lead to like severe issues,” Kutcher said after the film’s screening. “I went to the hospital like two days before we started shooting the movie. I was like doubled over in pain.
“My pancreas levels were completely out of whack,” Kutcher added. “It was really terrifying … considering everything.[Jobs died as the result of Pancreatic Cancer]”
More review snippets follow:
The Hollywood Reporter: Playing somewhat like a two-hour commercial covering the first 20 tumultuous years of Apple’s development, Joshua Michael Stern’s biopic of Steve Jobs is a passably entertaining account of the career of one of the twentieth century’s great innovators that doesn’t break any stylistic ground, hewing closely to public perception of the tech giant.
Cinema Blend: After 10 days of watching Sundance films that wholly reject traditional Hollywood formulas, it’s exhausting to see the work Joshua Michael Stern does here, leaning heavily on an overbearing score and soft lighting and scenes that lay out the film’s themes as broadly as a corporate presentation. The Steve Jobs of this movie, who’s constantly berating his employees to come up with something better than the status quo, would have hated the pat sentiments and dull direction of jOBS. Apple urged people to think different. jOBS does anything but.
IndieWire: As a whole, the movie inevitably suffers from comparison to “The Social Network,” another recent biopic about cutthroat tech innovators that’s superior in every way. The David Fincher-directed movie burrowed inside the essence of competitive young brilliance and triumphantly explored how inspired minds engage in endless competition. “jOBS” renders the same forces through the Apple founder’s ongoing persistence without a modicum of depth. “We gotta risk everything,” Jobs tells his team early on. The movie could have taken that advice; the problem with “jOBS” is that it plays too safe.
The Verge: As expected, there are some liberties taken with Apple’s story and even / especially the representation of some characters — but the emotional resonance of Steve Jobs himself is convincing. It’s not revisionist history, and it’s not some greater parable about the human spirit. Jobs is a point-A-to-point-B story about a uniquely innovative thinker and ruthless businessman — one that had a notable and meaningful impact on the world. It’s a good film, but it’s also very “safe” — a familiar story that doesn’t try for a bigger picture.