My Cataclysmically Failed Attempt To Review jOBS.


This movie is allegedly about the rise, fall, and re-rise of Steven Jobs. It starts with him as a jerky young man, and progresses until he is a jerky older man. In the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that I only watched the first twenty minutes of this film. I feel that this was more than enough. You would too. This movie stinks. Don't watch it.

Let me explain... 

This movie manages to get so much wrong about Steve Jobs that I think it must have been deliberate. What I don't know is whether it was for legal reasons or if they were trolling us. The first thing they get wrong about Steve Jobs is who he is as a person. The real Steve Jobs was, to put it kindly, abrasive. But he must have had some good qualities to inspire such loyalty and dedication in his friends and employees. Movie Jobs... not so much.

Movie Jobs is one of the most unlikeable characters I've ever seen in a film. At least Caligula was nice to his horse. Movie Jobs casually stabs everybody he meets in the back without the least shred of remorse. And with the rushed pace of the film, the story feels like it's jumping from one stabbing to another. You never get a sense of him as a person, just as a remorseless backstabbing machine. The story starts with him in college. He meets a girl sitting in the park doing a caligraphy assignment for class. He shows an interest in what she's doing. They have sex. He takes half her stash of acid. Then he's in the caligraphy class sitting one desk in front of her, completely oblivious to her or the pained, angry expression on her face. And, until the point I turned off the movie, this is how all his relationships go. Friends, parents, girlfriend (not the caligraphy girl, she's never heard from again), co workers, everybody is there for Movie Jobs to step on. If you're here to get some insight into Jobs as a person, you're in the wrong place. The alternative is that you're here to view this as a historical document, to see what happened.

This movie is as true to history as Paul W.s. Anderson's "The Three Muskateers" was to its source novel. And if you haven't seen it, Milla Jovovitch does bullet-time kung fu while steampunk airships do battle in the sky. (Dumas would be proud)

About 19 minutes into the movie, there's a scene where Steve Jobs is explaining to Steve Wozinak why the computer Woz just invented is so important.

I could end the review right here.

This is like somebody explaining to Jimi Hendrix how important his guitar playing is. No, scratch that. This is like having a scene in a movie about the history of the Beatles where John Lennon teaches George Harrison how to play guitar, when in fact George taught John how to tune one. According to Wikipedia (but I've heard) Wozniak was given an early draft of the script to read. "He read it as far as he 'could stomach it and felt it was crap.'" My guess is he made it about as far as I did.

This is where I turned off the movie. A bit more disclosure here: I have a B.A. in Computer Science and I'm also a bit of a computer history wonk. I have loads of books and movies about the history of computers. I was offended by how wrong this movie got things.

So let's watch this instead. It's a 2 hour discussion by several of the people portrayed in the movie.

One more thing...

Here are some GOOD movies/documentaries you should track down if you're interested in the computer industry and the unusual people who started it.

Pirates Of Silicon Valley

1999. Starring Anthony Michael Hall as Bill Gates and Noah Wyle as Steve Jobs.

Covering roughly the same time period as jOBS, it shows the rise of both Apple and Microsoft in an entertaining and informative way. Some minor points are changed, in the movie Microsoft chased after IBM when in truth it was the other way around, but it get way more things right than wrong. And Wyle's Steve Jobs was so accurate that Jobs invited him to come to a Macworld presentation to pretend to be him for a few minutes on stage, then Jobs would come out and "critize" him.

Micro Men

2009. Starring Alexander Armstrong as Sir. Clive Sinclair and Martin Freeman as Chris Curry.

This is what was happening in England around that time. It follows the top british computer manufacturers as they come to blows (literally) during the English computer boom of the early 1980's. Very interesting film.

Unfortunately it hasn't been released on home video, even in England. Horray for youtube

Triumph of The Nerds

1996. Documentary. Written and hosted by Robert X. Cringely. 

An amusing and informative documentary that uses interviews with many of the pivotal figures in the history of "modern" computers (1970-1995) to tell a story that's way better than jOBS. It's also amusing for the time it was made. They casually mention that Jobs has made a fortune thanks to his "stake in an animation studio". Toy Story was less than a year old. This is also before Jobs made his triumphant return to Apple.

As Steve Wozinak said on his website, "It was one of the best shows ever created of that kind. Everyone has the same opinion, so why ask me? I'm not a history expert and couldn't tell you what it missed or got wrong, but it seemed extremly thorough and insightful."

There was a semi-sequel to this documentary called "Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview". When the documentary was originally put together, they interviewed Steve Jobs for about an hour about his history and his legacy. When Jobs died, the producers of the documentary found an archive copy of the interview. Unfortunately, the audio quality is abysmal. There is a constant hissing noise that could easily be removed by any sound editing software. But if you want an hour of undiluted Steve Jobs, here it is.

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