I did it. I caved. I promised myself I wouldn’t do it. But, I found I had some free time a couple days ago and a little extra money in my pocket. Wow. That sounds like I’m a recovering alcoholic who fell off the wagon or bought sex from a street corner. No. But, I feel just about as guilty, I suppose. I’m a life long Apple fan girl. And I promised myself I wouldn’t give my money in support of a movie that I had read got so many things wrong. But, my curiosity got the better of me. And I suppose the fact that it’s written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Danny Boyle had something to do with it. I suppose the final justification came when I decided at least I would know how bad it was once I saw it. And see it, I did. And my verdict?
It’s not nearly as bad as I was led to believe. Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a good movie. It’s just not Ishtar horrible. I think it would be doing better with audiences if it had been marketed better. It’s a different kind of story than you were led to believe. Aaron Sorkin decided to stage this as a three act play at three different Apple product launches. Well, he staged it leading up to three Apple product launches. You don’t actually get to see anybody announcing any products. And I suppose that’s okay. Those are all over Youtube. And at least they are accurate. All of the created drama is behind the curtain. I say created because the details quite literally aren’t important here. All of the historical information and any kind of timeline are out the window. If it didn’t serve Sorkin’s plot line it was completely out. If it did, it was in. But, maybe in a different place than when it actually happened.
I watched an interview with Danny Boyle while the film was still in limited release. He admitted that it’s not a so-called biopic. But, he failed at calling it what it is. When thinking about the plot, I came away thinking about it in two different, but similar ways. The first being that this is Steve Jobs being haunted by his ghosts. Very much like Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Except without the visiting of product launches past, present and future. He’s not traveling through time or anything. But, this Steve Jobs does seem haunted. And he has the same visitors at each and every launch. He’s having the same conversation with Woz(credit the Apple II team) each time. And every time he’s just about to go on stage, there’s John Sculley triggering his father figure desires. And then there’s his daughter. Lisa is there so often ticking that growth as a father box in the story arc, my mind couldn’t help remembering that little girl you occasionally saw in Schindler’s List. The plot became so predictable, I started wondering how other people would edit it once it’s released to online and DVD. Would someone change the entire movie to black and white except for Lisa? Or would someone completely erase both the Woz and Sculley characters like someone has done with Tyler Durden in Fight Club? I can see it now. Steve Jobs is working through his father issues with an invisible Sculley and there’s Woz showing up to push that guilt button. And just behind the door is Joanna Hoffman crying a little bit because she’s the only one who knows the truth. Her boss is slowly losing his mind. Oh, it’s going to happen.
I went in hearing that the portrayal of Steve Jobs is bad. That they’ve portrayed him as an asshole. Do people not know the history of Steve Jobs? He could be a genuine ass. But, nobody is such a one dimensional character. Michael Fassbender does an admiral job in such a confined role. I say confined because here you are placing your character in the same situation time and time and time again. There’s only so much of Steve we’re going to see in the pressure pot of the moments before important product launches. I gather most would be stressed under such conditions. Although Michael Fassbender has portrayed a robot before, he’s far from one dimensional here. He smiles here and there. He cracks jokes. He’s embarrassed at least once. He’s nicer to Apple employees at the end. And you do see his compassion grow for his daughter. This isn’t the Steve most who lived and worked with knew. And that will probably never be seen on a movie screen. It’s only been four years since his death. The true Steve will emerge over a longer time period. People who were closest to him both professionally and personally will retire and write about him. Some stories will be unfair. Some will be too fair. The truth is somewhere in the middle.
As for other characters, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogan and Jeff Daniels did a great job. But, they almost always do. Where I was completely caught off guard was with Michael Stuhlbarg’s performance as Andy Hertzfeld. It was absolutely uncanny. Uncanny.
As I write this, the movie is getting hammered. I’ll echo what I wrote above. This movie wasn’t marketed correctly. And that’s kind of too bad. Sure, the historical details were all thrown in a hat and then strewn around the floor and trampled on. But, what movie gets it all correct. As long as you can go in knowing this about the movie, it’s entertaining. I just worry future generations will believe this is how it all went down.