I had an open mind when I went to see "Jobs" last weekend with my husband, he with some knowledge of the man and Apple, and I who am very near the end of listening to the 20 CDs that make up the Walter Issacson authorized biography.
But as I sit here typing on my MacPro, with my iPhone syncing and my Mac desktop and iPad dormant for the moment, I can't help but wonder how in the world this movie called "Jobs" could have left out so much that was compelling about the man and left in so much that happened in the board room. If the movie had been titled "Apple Before the iPod," or "Jobs and the Emergence of the iRevlolution," I might have said, OK.
But that wasn't the title.
I even came in not as down on the casting of Ashton Kutcher in the title role as some people, although as the movie went on, I wanted his stare to be more icy and his volatility to be more volcanic. Even as his Jobs cheats longtime friends out of millions, Kutcher has a sweetness that doesn't fit the Steve Jobs who could be cold and ruthless. I know Kutcher understands more about the technology than most people, and he's so smart and passionate when he's off-screen about this subject that I could forgive a lot.
But some things I couldn't forgive, because I couldn't forget Dylan Baker's voice from my car's CD player telling me all this stuff about Steve Jobs the innovator vs. Steve Jobs the not very nice guy.
Up until Jobs' ouster from the company he created, the film had glimpses of his personal life -- the Reed College dropout who was into LSD, extreme diets and spiritualism, and who traveled through India (which here looked to be on vacation with a friend, while in reality, he was alone much of the time and was deathly ill for a while). We see him deny his daughter for all of her young life, and then she just showed up on his couch. We see him married with children and not how he got there.
But how can you know the man if you don't know how feelings of abandonment affected him? According to Isaacson's exhaustive biography, being given up for adoption was a huge motivating factor throughout his life. Here, not so much.
And then there is Pixar. Jobs is the man who gave John Lassiter and his team the freedom to create while shepherding the company through its relationship with Disney, through "Toy Story" and beyond. He even went so far as to blame his cancer on his exhaustion from operating both Apple and Pixar at one point.
But Pixar is never mentioned. All we get is a glimpse of the table lamp that became the animation giant's signature prop.
There were several times I thought, OK, if you are going to leave out a huge chunk of Jobs' life and concentrate on the company, at the very least, give us a Mac screen and type in what got him from Point A to Point B. Example: Married Laurene Powell in 1991. Found his birth mother and befriended his newly discovered sister, novelist Mona Simpson. Reconnected with his daughter Lisa and they maintained a rocky relationship. Was instrumental in the creation of Pixar and the "Toy Story" franchise. Founded and developed Next, an elegant computer design that didn't quite fit consumer desires. Etc.
But none of that was there. The movie opens with a glimpse into the future -- the introduction of the iPod -- but stopped there, with no mention of iTunes and what it took to get the artists and recording companies on board. An ending screen that lists what Apple created under Jobs and designer Johnny Ives (again, just glimpsed) would have been an appropriate reminder of the lines waiting outside stores for every new version of the iPhone.
But there was no mention of the iPhone.
From Apple, we get these gleaming, sometimes infuriating "appliances," as Jobs called them, and for us who aren't wearing Genius T's at an Apple store (not in the movie), as long as they deliver on promised functions, we mostly don't dig too far beneath the surface. That's a lot like this movie. The film has the look and the trappings of the man who built one of the world's most successful technology companies.
But Apple was run by a complex, outrageous man who elevated modern-day Edisons and understood how to perfect, package and produce products that consumers could not just enjoy, but love. For that, you'll need a book -- or a trip to an Apple store.