Today in Apple history: Ashton Kutcher’s JOBS lands with a thud

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Ashton Kutcher played Steve Jobs in 2013 biopic.
Ashton Kutcher bore a striking resemblance to Steve Jobs.
Photo: Steve Jobs

Aug16August 16, 2013: JOBS, the Steve Jobs biopic starring Ashton Kutcher, lands in theaters.

The first of two competing Jobs movies (the second one was the Aaron Sorkin version, based on Walter Isaacson’s best-selling biography), the movie receives polarizing reviews from critics, but fails to make an impact at the box office — where it earns just $6.7 million in its first weekend.

Given the gazillion-selling Isaacson biography and the general Steve Jobs mania which swept the world following his death in late 2011, it’s no great surprise that Hollywood would want to get in on the game.

JOBS was the work of director Joshua Michael Stern, who had previously directed the Kevin Costner comedy-drama Swing Vote, and writer Matt Whiteley, for whom the movie remains his only film credit. (Whitely has actually been a great sport about his “somewhat maligned” movie — even giving a Reddit AMA in which he talked about landing the job of screenwriter while working at a Dallas marketing firm.)

It debuted at Sundance in early 2013, but took until later that year (including a delay from its originally-planned April launch) to arrive in theaters. The best thing to say about the movie is the performance by Ashton Kutcher — who not only bore a striking resemblance to the real Steve, but seemed willing to throw himself into the performance.

At one point in pre-production, Kutcher was even hospitalized after trying to follow Jobs’ fruitarian diet. In an interview with USA Today, Kutcher told the paper that, “I went to the hospital like two days before we started shooting the movie. I was like doubled over in pain. My pancreas levels were completely out of whack. It was really terrifying.”

Most of the movie’s criticism comes from suggestions that it is inaccurate: either getting characters and scenes wrong, or leaving them out entirely, as it did with Xerox PARC (where Jobs first saw the graphical user interface he adapted for the Mac.) A number of real-life figures in the Apple/Steve Jobs story have gone on record with their thoughts about the movie — with the below video being a particularly interesting dissection of it.

Having now seen Aaron Sorkin’s Steve Jobs movie, which was also subject to plenty of inaccuracy claims, I think the world will remember Kutcher’s JOBS slightly more fondly than it would otherwise. It’s still no Pirates of Silicon Valley (my pick for best Steve Jobs movie ever), but it’s an entertaining enough indie movie version of an important story. Even if it does have 27 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Which Steve Jobs movie or documentary do you think gets closest to the real person? Leave your comments below.