When I was getting my first computer (and I was a late adopter) I was faced with the choice we all still have to face: Mac or PC? I chose PC for several reasons, one of which is that I can say all these years later that I have never given so much as a nickel to Steve Jobs. I have never owned an iMac, an iPod, an iPhone, an iPad, or an iSpy. Seeing this movie reinforces my self-satisfaction in this choice. I find little to admire in the man.
(Some of the other reasons … PCs were, and are, cheaper. I’ve saved a lot of money over the years. I have also found many iPeople [not all, don’t write me!] to be smug, with an insufferable sense of their own superiority, which they will happily tell you about. Tell them you use a PC and they will sneer and imply that they think you are one step up from writing your emails in stone with a chisel, and not a very big step. I also find the yearly religious pilgrimages to Apple product launches to be more than a bit creepy. Ditto the “early adopters” queuing endlessly to be the first to own the new version of an iThing. Seeing the happy throngs, as depicted here, filling big auditoriums to see Jobs perform reminds me eerily of Moonies, Rajneeshees, and Jonestown. Any of these people would be happy to jump on the stage and start humping Steve’s leg.)
(The fact is, my computer needs are modest. The last several devices I have owned were way, way, way more computer than I need. I don’t game, I don’t download or edit music or films, I don’t paint, I don’t design better mousetraps. I write, I send and receive emails, I visit the Internet, I waste time on YouTube, like we all do. That’s about it. A good friend once told me he could con a nuclear sub on his Mac, while at the same time illegally downloading a movie and mixing concert recordings. Fine, I thought, next time I’m conning a sub I’ll be sure to get a Mac. The need hasn’t arisen yet.)
Okay, that’s enough about the man and the products. How about the movie? First, it’s well-made and well-acted, but it’s about a man I liked about as much as I did Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull. I respected that movie tremendously, but found it very hard to love it. It is presented in three acts, centering around the product launches of the first Mac, the NeXT (remember that one? Nobody else does, either, or at least they didn’t buy one. They sold well over a dozen of them), and the iMac. Along with this was the story of his relationship with Lisa, the daughter he refused to acknowledge, from the age of five to nineteen. There is also the story of his firing, and his return. So it’s a segment right from the middle of his life. There are a few flashbacks to his early days with Wozniak in the garage, developing the first home computer. (At the beginning is a film clip of Arthur C. Clarke who gives a astonishing predictions of what our world today would look like. No one else came even within light-years of his accuracy!) It would be entirely possible to make this into a trilogy. Focus on the rise to wealth and fame in the first one, and the return to glory in the later years in the third. But I wouldn’t be eager to see them. Spending two hours with this man who was undeniably one of the greatest innovators of all time, but not much of a human being, was hard enough.