Let me just get it off my chest without any preamble: I hated this movie. I hated it so much I was tempted to trash all my Apple devices as soon as I got home.
I had no expectation that I would walk out of the theater thinking Steve Jobs was a swell guy. By all accounts, he was a prick as well as a marketing genius, and the film, based on Walter Isaacson’s bestselling book, captured his prickdom in all its ignominy. No, my problem with the movie was the movie. Aaron Sorkin has been a brilliant screenwriter over the course of his career – from “A Few Good Men” and “Moneyball” to “The West Wing” and, one of my favorite films in recent memory, “The Social Network.” His snappy dialogue and “walk and talk” sequences are legendary. But somewhere in the development process of “Steve Jobs,” Sorkin must have been allowed to hold the movie and its director, Danny Boyle, hostage. The result is Sorkin on steroids – a never-ending series of scenes in which Jobs, his marketing director Joanna, and Lisa, the daughter he refused to acknowledge as his own until late in the film, argue. Oh, wait. Jobs also argues with Woz, his old partner, and John Sculley, his old boss. Each of these arguments occurs directly before or soon after the launch of a new product, and each ends with Jobs staring at the person he’s just insulted as if nothing has happened. Nearly the entire movie takes place backstage or on stage in whatever venue Jobs is making his presentation. We hardly see him at home or doing regular people sorts of things. He’s an entity that exists to present products and receive applause for his creations, which is fine except that it has the effect of making the movie an exercise in claustrophobia.
Reviewers have praised “Steve Jobs,” in part, for its unusual structure – i.e. it doesn’t follow the usual chronology of a Hollywood bio-pic and there are no flashbacks or time cuts to provide background or depth of character. All fine and good. I like films that take chances or I wouldn’t adored last year’s “Birdman.” But to sit there for two hours listening to otherwise great actors like Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet speechifying Sorkin dialogue made my eyes glaze over. Bottom line: I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.