3 Stars – Thought-provoking
There is little doubt that the power of the computer has changed the world. What makes that change all the more amazing is that it has occurred within only a few decades and within most of our lifetimes. Although there are many people involved in causing this technological revolution, there is no one who has done it with more flare and passion than Steve Jobs (Ashton Kutcher). Telling the story of this complex and iconic man is not an easy task. Admired by many for inspiring a new approach toward technology as a “tool of the mind,” Jobs’ genius is undisputed. Brought to the screen by director Joshua Michael Stern and based on the writing of Matt Whiteley, Jobs is one version of Steve Jobs’ life.
Portraying him as a person in search of a transcendent life, as demonstrated by his dropping out of school, dabbling in art and sex, using psychedelic drugs, studying under a guru and a monk, Jobs is open to anything but the ordinary. Working for Atari and having more inspiration and confidence than technical ability, he turns to his friend Steve Wozniak (Josh Gad) for help in implementation. Cheating his friend out of the financial reward for their very first partnership, Jobs demonstrates his lack of loyalty and integrity, a flaw in his character that was amplified by his obsessive drive. This character flaw is seen again in his refusal to accept responsibility when his girlfriend becomes pregnant with his daughter.
The primary focus of this version of Jobs’ life is his struggle to lead his own company, Apple Computer, Inc. The reasons for his struggle are many but mostly self-imposed. His genius often leaves him with little compassion or appreciation for those who work with him and for him. He also has little concern for the cost of research and development, which puts him at odds with his Board of Directors. These deficiencies cost Jobs dearly, not only in friends but eventually in his ouster by his own corporate board as well. When he finally begins to learn from his mistakes, Jobs is able to not only find love and form a family, but also restore himself as a more compassionate leader of his company.
Living only to the age of 56, Jobs understood how to use this new computer technology to enrich our lives. The driving creative force behind Apple Computers, Pixar Animation, NeXT, iTunes, iPhone and much more, Jobs believed that every human can change the world. In a voice-over of his words, the film states his philosophy that people who make our shared life are no smarter than we are and that we each need to add our creative abilities to improve the human enterprise. Though a troubled person in many ways, his creativity and drive to achieve have translated into technology that has done just that and his impact continues to affect our daily lives.
Discussion for those who have seen this film:
1. If you have lived through the computer revolution, how has your life changed for both good and for ill?
2. The compulsive nature of Jobs’ drive and his willingness to cheat his friend also causes him to see his daughter as an unnecessary distraction from his development of Apple Computer, Inc. How do you keep balance between your drives and ambition with caring for your family and friends?
3. When Jobs was restored to Apple, he purchased enough Apple stock from his $7.4 billion sale of Pixar Animation to oust the board. Do you think he did that due to vengeance or strategic autonomy to lead the company unhindered by others’ dissent? Why do you answer as you do?