MOTW: Five Facts about the Steve Jobs Biography "Jobs"

Photo Credit: Open Road Films
August 13th, 2013

MOTW: Five Facts about the Steve Jobs Biography "Jobs"

As the co-founder and by far the most recognizable public face of Apple Inc., Steve Jobs was a worldwide icon right up to his death in October 2011. His development of incredibly popular devices such as the iMac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad, along with services such as iTunes, eventually made Apple the world's most valuable publicly traded company as of 2011.

In the new biographical film "Jobs," star Ashton Kutcher (as Jobs) and director Joshua Michael Stern look to shed light on one of the most important innovators in modern times. With "Jobs" opening in US theaters on Aug. 16, here are five key facts about the new film:

It's a fairly small production

One might expect "Jobs" to be at least a moderately budgeted Hollywood production along the lines of 2010's "The Social Network," the acclaimed film about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and that site's creation. However, while that David Fincher-directed movie was made for about $40 million, the budget for "Jobs" is just $8.5 million, according to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb).

Despite that, the filmmakers were able to attract quite an impressive cast for the project. In addition to Kutcher, "Jobs" stars Josh Gad as Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak. Gad was a Tony nominee for his starring role in the red-hot Broadway musical "The Book of Mormon." Other veteran actors in the "Jobs" cast include James Woods, Matthew Modine, Lukas Haas, Lesley Ann Warren, J.K. Simmons, and Dermot Mulroney.

Kutcher is more like Jobs than one might expect

When the "Two and a Half Men" star was originally cast in the role, some critics and entertainment writers were taken aback. Jobs certainly was not a bad-looking man, but Kutcher, who was a model before beginning a film career, seemed like an odd choice to some. That was compounded by the fact that Kutcher is best known for starring in more lighthearted projects, such as the movie "Dude, Where's My Car?" and the television series "That's '70s Show."

However, photos of Jobs from when he was Kutcher's age indicate a decent resemblance between the two, and Hollywood makeup helped Kutcher look even more like the Apple icon. Though early reviews for the film have been mixed, some reviewers have been impressed with Kutcher's work in the role.

David D'Arcy of the Screen International website noted that Kutcher is a "welcome surprise" as Jobs, noting that "his bullying and his flares of temper and mercurial insight are surprisingly credible." In "The Guardian" newspaper, critic Ed Gibbs said Kutcher "delivers a surprisingly effective turn as the man, down to his awkwardly hunched posture. Bearing more than a passing resemblance to Jobs, Kutcher even emulates his voice, to some degree."

"Jobs" focuses on a key period of its subject's life

Some biographical pictures attempt to provide a complete history of their subjects from birth to death, although many modern films tend to focus on the most important periods. "Jobs" takes the latter approach, following Jobs' life from the very first notions of Apple's creation in 1971 through 2000, shortly into Jobs' tenure as Apple CEO after some time away from the company. The film's story concludes before Jobs was diagnosed with cancer in 2003.

Unlike "The Social Network," "Jobs" is a product of newer filmmakers

Though they are different films in several ways, it's hard not to compare "Jobs" to "The Social Network," which was critically acclaimed and performed pretty well at the box office. Hardly any discussion of "Jobs" comes up without a mention of its Facebook-focused predecessor.

"The Social Network" came with an impressive pedigree. While leads Jesse Eisenberg, Rooney Mara, Andrew Garfield, and Armie Hammer have gone on to become bigger stars since the film's release, the filmmakers were the real stars when "The Social Network" was in production.

David Fincher is one of Hollywood's most in-demand directors, with films such as "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "Zodiac," and "Se7en" on his resume. Writer Aaron Sorkin is just as renowned for his screenplays for "A Few Good Men" and "The American President," in addition to creating the television series "The West Wing."

By comparison, "Jobs" comes from the first produced screenplay for writer Matt Whiteley, while Stern's previous theatrical directing credits are limited to "Swing Vote," which starred Kevin Costner, and the little-seen fantasy tale "Neverwas." The film's producers have called this a positive aspect for the film, noting that the grassroots approach to the project closely parallels the innovations of Jobs himself.

"Jobs" paints its subject's life in full

Some biographical pictures lean hard toward portraying their subjects as heroes with virtually no flaws. For example, some reviewers criticized the recent biography "42," saying they believed the film went too far in lionizing Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier in professional baseball.

Reviews of "Jobs" note that the film doesn't shy away from showing some more divisive aspects of its subject, ranging from Jobs' brutal candor to family issues. The filmmakers said they hoped to provide a comprehensive perspective on Jobs' life in the film.