On Saturday, the trailer for Jobs, the biopic about Apple's late founder and icon of American ingenuity, appeared on the internet. The trailer looks unsurprisingly strong, however, as it surfs through the lynchpin moments of Jobs' life — or "connects the dots" as Jobs himself might have put it — a semblance of doubt over Jobs's gentle tone floats to the surface.
The problem does not lie with Ashton Kutcher, who not only looks the part of Steve Jobs, but also appears to be capable of playing against type as the smartest guy in the room with the impassioned commitment and range that a biopic requires. Nor does the look of the film disappoint; Director Joshua Michael Turner has a flare for making picturesque Americana out of a common man-turned-hero film, if the charm of his 2008 film Swing Vote is any hint.
Biopics of a certain threshold rarely wipe out, and the inherent lack of risk is, in itself, a risk. It appears Jobs will join the ranks of well-lit, nicely polished films about a true subject, and therein the doubts of Jobs's potential arises. Will this film challenge the audience enough? Will it do justice to Steve Job's dark side, as Isaacson and Moritz's journalism on Steve Jobs and Apple so bravely did? Or will it try to tap dance around the fire and brimstone, and slip and slide on its own gloss?
Sony and Aaron Sorkin are also supposedly developing a Steve Jobs film of their own. Its stands to reason that Sorkin — now in the middle of what could be called "The Newsroom freakout" era of his career — is far more capable of taking his protagonist to somewhere more egomaniacal and self-destructive than most others. Wouldn't you like to see screenwriting's most famous ranter and raver take a stab at the time Jobs went at Bill Gates for User Interface? Or the time he honked at a police officer for ticketing him? Perhaps Sorkin's film on the subject will pull fewer punches than Jobs, should it ever see the light of day.