Aaron Sorkin’s “Steve Jobs” Is A Waste Of Time

“Steve Jobs” is a farcical pile of trash that collapses under the weight of its own pretentiousness. It refuses to respect the audience over and over with events that never even remotely happened. The choices the movie makes with what to show and what not show starts to give off a “hit piece” 15 minutes into the movie. Artistic license is one thing, but this was something else altogether. “Steve Jobs” travels to a land of unnecessary pre-teen edginess when something a little bit more straightforward would have done the job so much better.

The entire time I was watching, I couldn’t help but think what a farce it all was. Michael Fassbender is a great actor, but the character he was playing was so boring. This Steve Jobs felt like a humorless robot. We know the tired trope of the “genius asshole”. It’s been done to death with everything ever written about the man. Why couldn’t we see the real human? He was a family man. He spearheaded the greatest corporate recovery in American history. He assembled an executive team that’s seeing the company reach all time highs on the stock market. Where are those elements?

The movie had plenty of trouble getting off the ground. Different actors turned the role down. We can thank Jobs’s wife for trying to save everyone $10. (Looks like she did a pretty good job.)

I understand that biopics are really hard to do. You’re never going to satisfy everyone with a cradle-to-grave story. It’s perfectly acceptable to take an alternative approach when dealing with a subject matter this daunting. Aaron Sorkin, the film’s screenwriter, kept emphasizing during interviews that “art” does not need to be restricted by the facts. That’s fine, but don’t call the movie “Steve Jobs” if you want to take an artistic approach with a real human being that died not too long ago. His wife and kids are alive for Christ’s sake. Don’t give people a reason to think this jackass of a character was the whole man.

The way Sorkin did “The Social Network” was better than what he did with this. Sorkin didn’t call that movie “Mark Zuckerberg”. He didn’t call it “The Story Of Facebook”. Even so, many people I know still think that “The Social Network” was close to the real story. We know that it wasn’t, and that it took a lot of liberties with the facts. Calling that movie “The Social Network” created enough separation from the real life story that it was acceptable. It was a pretty entertaining movie too.

Aaron Sorkin admitted in a recent Wired interview that he knew very early on that he wasn’t going to be doing a biopic.

I work very slowly, and the first couple of months are spent just pacing around, climbing the walls, and saying, “I have no idea what I’m going to do. I don’t know how to do this.” It was in that period that I decided not to write a biopic.

If Sorkin respected the general audience, Jobs’s family, or people that actually care about the subject matter that this movie is attempting to portray, he shouldn’t have called this movie “Steve Jobs”. It was so factually incorrect that it made my head spin. Michael Fassbender’s portrayal was fantastic in some of the more dramatic scenes with John Sculley (played by Jeff Daniels). But Fassbender fails to capture any of playfulness that Jobs would often display publicly. Jobs was an emotional man, especially in his youth. He would often break into tears when he’d get into arguments. The movie doesn’t even touch this aspect of him. In fact, the movie doesn’t touch much of the actual human being it’s named after.

I had a feeling that this was going to be bad just looking at the trailer and reading about all the delays in production. It became obvious that this movie is dishonest when I saw it in a theatre with a general audience. A woman sitting next to me whispered to her husband, “I can’t believe he was so mean to his friend for so long”. A 20-something behind me said, “Wow, he was a dick to his daughter his entire life”.

So much of the movie was unfair. There was no mention of Lisa living with Jobs throughout high school. There was no mention of the fact that Wozniak left Apple in 1985 or the fact that he had nothing to do with the Newton. I cannot comprehend a situation in which Wozniak would be asking for recognition for the Apple II in 1998 before the launch of the iMac.

A movie entitled “Steve Jobs” needs to go to the iPod. It needs to touch iPhone and iPad. All of these were category defining products. “Steve Jobs” leaves us right before the iMac introduction. While the iMac introduction was incredibly important, the time Steve Jobs spends at Apple up until his death was clearly his finest hour. The audience gets nothing of this with “Steve Jobs”. I guess ignoring the most fruitful part of a man’s life in a movie literally named after him is “experimental”. Or maybe it’s cowardly. Perhaps it’s a bit lazy? I think I’ll go with dishonest.

Perhaps the source material was to blame. After all, Walter Isaacson’s officially commissioned biography was a rehashed Wikipedia entry. Still, I was hoping Sorkin would be able to do a bit more with the source material. It seems like Sorkin read the biography and threw it out the window. Can you blame him?

Sorkin continually mentioned in interviews that he doesn’t want to be restricted by the facts because art doesn’t need to be trapped within the realm of reality. The structure Sorkin chose for the movie trapped him in a different way. He wasn’t able to give the audience anything that resembled the the real Steve Jobs. Audiences were sold something different entirely. We got a convoluted interpretation of a complex human being that is being commercially sold as the real deal. It’s dishonest to create fiction and sell it as legitimate to the masses. “Steve Jobs” is a cheap shot and a waste of time.


Originally published at www.lostgen.io on October 26, 2015.