Why This Apple a Day May Keep Audiences AwayOctober 26th, 2015
By Danny Manus
SPOILER ALERT: The subsequent article and review includes spoilers from Steve Jobs. However, if you read the book or know anything about him, then there’s nothing really to be surprised about. It’s not like there’s some big reveal or twist ending. He created the Mac. There’s the big twist. I’m just saying Spoiler Alert so people don’t get pissed at me.
Let me preface this by saying I was really looking forward to this film. So much so, I waited to see it on my birthday as a special treat to myself. Danny Boyle, Aaron Sorkin, and an amazing cast?
I was so IN.
But while I wanted to love it, I’m not surprised this film bombed this weekend because despite a few emotionally strong moments, some wonderful performances, and a musical score that told a better story than the script did, the movie left me wanting much more and caring much less about Steve Jobs than I did going into the film. And I don’t even HAVE a mac or an iPhone. Or an iPad. Or any apple products actually. And now I really don’t want one.
The biggest issue with Steve Jobs’ life as a film is that while it carries a universal message everyone can understand in its tale of redemption for the modern age, it’s incredibly hard to connect with the man himself or anyone in his life including his long-suffering partner Joanna Hoffman (played by Kate Winslet, who does a stunningly subtle accent) who is half-martyr and half long-suffering spinster one can only assume stuck around for the boatload of cash.
It’s no wonder producers needed to bring on a writer like Aaron Sorkin, who employs his rapid-fire witty banter with reckless abandon throughout every scene. But while there is no bigger Sorkinite than myself, his cadence, references and relentless attention to word-perfect detail is so overpowering in the story that it starts to feel like this is really the story of Steve Sorkin. Because as far as I can tell from other clips, TV appearances and other’s accounts…Steve Jobs didn’t speak like Joshua Lyman or Toby Zeigler or Will McAvoy. But to be fair, if the voice of Steve Jobs actually WAS used instead of Mr. Sorkin’s, this movie would have put everyone to sleep within 15 minutes.
Because there is no story here. At least not one presented. A guy tries, a guy fails, a guy tries again, and he becomes a hit. And along the way he pisses people off cause he’s pretty much a douchebag of the highest regard. Sure, it exemplifies at the highest of levels how one can fail a million times in spectacular fashion yet still rise from the ashes to change the world – as long as you’re white, brilliant and have $500 Million. But I’m pretty sure one can argue he’s also the reason our society is now so fundamentally flawed, and the curtain isn’t really pulled back enough to show us anything we didn’t already know.
The wrap-around story of Jobs and his daughter is compelling in the first act, but when a man of science can’t accept a 94% chance that he’s the father, and is still tentative around her five and ten years later despite it being HAMMERED into us that he IS the father, it starts feeling like a bad episode of Maury Povich. And for me, the human side of Steve Jobs isn’t his estranged relationship with his daughter or his climactic realization that he needs to put her first. It’s his fear of failure in achieving his dream to change the world and the consequences of that.
Instead of trying to bring Steve down to earth, he should’ve seemed even closer to the sun so we could see the affects each time he’s singed by failure. What happened to him, personally, after each crushing defeat he endured? We don’t really find out. We don’t get the secret sauce that created the legend or the true impact of what happened when Apple fell.
Each scene, much like any page Sorkin has ever written, has a very clear rhythm to it. It’s a sonnet unto itself. And within each scene, the music so clearly underlines the beats of the beginning, the middle, and the end to each interaction between each character. There is a constant musical crescendo in each scene desperately trying to make us believe that the mundane and meaningless tiffs the characters REPEATEDLY have are something much more important with stakes that deserve a full orchestra building the moment.
The problem is…they don’t.
None of the conversations actually ARE that important and it’s seemingly the same repeated sequence 3 or 4 times for over 90 minutes. After each time jump, the story plays catch up and then Jobs speaks to the same 5 characters almost in the same exact order rehashing the same argument in each act. And Danny Boyle’s colorful and frenetic transitions between scenes and time jumps might be visual, as they were in The Beach, 127 Hours, and 28 Days Later, but they don’t tell a story and quite frankly feel unnatural to the one being told here.
Michael Fassbender does a lovely job, but it isn’t until he puts on the black turtleneck that I really started to see him as Jobs, and that’s 50 minutes in. Rogen, Winslet, and especially Jeff Daniels have pitch perfect moments in the story (Daniels is equally as good in The Martian and is pretty much guaranteed at least 1 Oscar nom), but it isn’t enough.
I know I may be in the minority here and cinephiles may look at Steve Jobs and see a masterfully told biopic. But for me, all it did was make me curious about that OTHER Steve Jobs film and make me happy I’m still typing away on my PC.Life in Hollywood, Random Ramblings Aaron Sorkin, Apple, Biopic, Danny Boyle, Jeff Daniels, Kate Winslet, Mac, Michael Fassbender, Sreenwriting, stakes, Steve Jobs