A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Jobs is a biopic about late Apple founder/CEO Steve Jobs. As a young man, Jobs smokes marijuana and experiments with hallucinogens, and other characters drink and smoke. Two of Jobs' romances are depicted -- a one-night stand and his long-term college relationship. He's shown kissing in bed with each of them, but that's it; there's no nudity or graphic content. The language is fairly typical of a mature drama, with the occasional use of "s--t," "a--hole," and one "f--king." Expect countless references to Apple's early product innovations -- both the successes and the failures, from the original Apple computer to the iPod. Several car makes are also featured prominently -- Mercedes, Porsche, Corvette Stingray, Volvo, and more. Ultimately, this movie is likely to particularly appeal to families and teens interested in technology and Apple devices.
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What's the story?
JOBS is the story of Steve Jobs' life related to the founding and development of Apple Computers. Director Joshua Michael Stern's take on the legendary Apple CEO follows Jobs (Ashton Kutcher) from his days as a Reed College dropout searching for life's beauty and meaning to his early career as a programmer at Atari. After collaborating with his old friend, Steve Wozniak (Josh Gad), Jobs notices that Woz has an invention he's working on for fun -- a personal computer board you can hook up to a TV monitor. Jobs thinks the idea is inspired and pushes Wozniak to present it at a computer club, leading to their first retail order of "Apple" computers. Overwhelmed, the two Steves enlist three friends to fill the order and eventually find an angel investor, Mike Markkula, (Dermot Mulroney) to finance their start-up. The film then shifts to a corporate biography, chronicling how Jobs became the singular-visioned head of Apple, responsible for making "computers cool again."
Is it any good?
The acting is fine, but the movie ends up being more like a really expensive corporate pep rally for Apple employees than a nuanced depiction of a fascinating but flawed man. The best biographical dramas reveal something meaningful about their subjects -- not just what they accomplished, but what made them exceptional and larger than life, as well as flawed and human. Films like Coal Miner's Daughter, Lincoln, and Amadeus portray more than singers, politicians, and composers; they depict the genius, troubled individuals behind the legends. Aside from a few failures (the way Jobs ignored/refused to acknowledge his first child and later dissed his crew of early Apple employees) Jobs, on the other hand, is a bland celebration of him as the founder of Apple, not as a man.
Anyone who read a couple of Jobs obituaries -- not to mention any serious Apple follower -- will already know nearly everything depicted in the film. There's no dramatic tension outside of a boring board of directors decision to oust Jobs in 1985 that led to a personal crisis ... which isn't covered in the movie. Instead, the movie fast forwards several years, during which Jobs got married and reconciled with his daughter. None of the personal issues that make that time period so compelling in Jobs' life are even mentioned.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Jobs concentrates on the time that Steve Jobs spent founding Apple and turning it into the premier computer company in the world. Is there more to Jobs' life that the filmmaker doesn't show? Why does the film focus on Jobs as an entrepreneur/inventor instead of, say, as a husband and father?
How does the movie depict drug use? Is it glamorized? What are the real-life consequences for using substances like LSD?
How does Jobs change compared to the other original Apple founders/employees? What does the movie say about "what it takes" to be an innovator?
Does owning i-devices and Apple computers make you more interested in seeing the movie? How does the movie make you feel about Apple and Jobs -- loyal to his vision? Critical of his treatment of employees?
- In theaters: August 16, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: November 26, 2013
- Cast: Ashton Kutcher, Dermot Mulroney, Josh Gad
- Director: Joshua Michael Stern
- Studio: Open Road Films
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 125 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some drug content and brief strong language
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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