Steve Jobs’ favorite reviewer slams Aaron Sorkin’s new movie

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Walt Mossberg echoes what others are saying about the Steve Jobs movie: it's inaccurate.
Photo: Joi Ito/Flickr CC

Technology journalist Walt Mossberg opened up about the Steve Jobs movie debuting in theaters this Friday and he didn’t have many kind things to say about it. Mossberg, who knew Steve Jobs for 14 years before his passing, recalls the numerous occasions in which they talked and spent time together including in interviews. None of those times, however, seem to add up to Aaron Sorkin’s portrayal of Jobs in the movie.

“Unlike Mr. Sorkin, I did know the real Steve Jobs, for about 14 years — the most productive and successful 14 years of his career,” Mossberg wrote in his column for The Verge. “I spent scores of hours in private conversations with him over those years, and interviewed him numerous times onstage at a tech conference I co-produced. And the Steve Jobs portrayed in Sorkin’s film isn’t the man I knew.”

He goes on to criticize the movie even further, accusing Sorkin of “cherry-picking and exaggerating” the negative aspects of Jobs’ career and personal life, particularly as they took place when he was young and lacking wisdom. Like many people who have seen the movie, Mossberg is also shocked about how much focus is put on Jobs’ denial that he was the father of Lisa Brennan-Jobs, who was conceived out of wedlock.

On top of painting an unfavorable picture of Jobs, Mossberg also points out that several events in the film are completely made up. In fact, at the end of the credits, a small footnote confirms that some parts are “fictionalized.”

“Mr. Jobs’ intimates tell me he never held serious conversations with old collaborators and foes in the moments before he took the stage; he was intensely focused on his presentation,” Mossberg writes. “His early colleague, Joanna Hoffman, was long gone from Apple by the time Mr. Jobs returned to launch the iMac, contrary to what the movie says.”

Ultimately, it appears as though Mossberg is let down by the Steve Jobs biopic, in part due to the fact that he has been an Aaron Sorkin fan for so long. But the general consensus is this upcoming movie does a poor job of showing the Steve Jobs so many people admired. The movie ends as Jobs gets ready to launch the iMac in 1998, but that leaves out the last 13 years of his life: when he led Apple into becoming what it is today with a much softer heart.

Mossberg shared his full opinions on The Verge, but he is hardly the only person who knew Steve Jobs and is now slamming the movie. Apple CEO Tim Cook and Chief Design Officer Jony Ive both publicly expressed their disapproval, though admittedly neither of them have seen it. Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Steve Jobs, also reportedly tried to kill the project. Sorkin, on the other hand, still doesn’t regret a thing.

The moral of the story seems to be that while Steve Jobs is likely still worth seeing just once, take the events in the film with a grain of salt. Sorkin appears to have made an entertaining movie, but not an accurate one.