The Steve Jobs biopic, JOBS, made its debut this past weekend at the Sundance Film Festival (with a theatrical release on April 19), and the reviews have begun pouring in. While many critics praised Kutcher and Gad for a job well done in their roles as Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, respectively, they were quick to criticize a few inaccurate details in the film. For instance, we saw the first clip from the film a few days ago, and Steve Wozniak said himself that the scene was “totally wrong,” and it’s actually not what happened at all during the early days of Apple. In the long run, though, does it really matter? In the Hollywood industry where the truth doesn’t always entirely make it through anyway, should we really be upset that a narrative non-fiction film isn’t 100% accurate?
In the one-minute clip, Jobs and Wozniak are in a heated debate about the operating system that Wozniak created. While Jobs is certain that the OS will be a big hit with the general public, Wozniak isn’t so sure and needs convincing. Apparently, though, the Woz himself denied that he was ever skeptical about his creation, and he actually had full confidence in the operating system. All hell broke loose at this point for Apple fans.
Many argue that there’s no excuse for the production team to bend the truth of the history of Apple and its founders. Because both Jobs and Wozniak have a biography and an autobiography, respectively, fans argue that there’s no reason for the movie to include made up bits, since resources are readily available. For instance, in Steve Jobs’ biography, author Walter Isaacson interviewed Jobs over 40 times, as well as interviewing over 100 different family members, friends, and colleagues in order to get an accurate account of the man behind the company. Because of that, many fans argue that there’s no reason that the team behind JOBS had to steer away from the truth.
Sure, in the grand scheme of things, the movie gives a mostly-accurate account of the history of the company and the founders who created it, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some of the factual details are either missing or a little off, and it shouldn’t be big deal either. It’s just a movie, folks. Movies are meant to be entertaining and fun to watch. In other words, it’s not a documentary, where there’s a word-for-word account of what happened. Remember The Social Network? It’s another non-fiction film that shows off the conception of Facebook, and while it gave viewers a vague idea of how the social networking giant got started, all of the drinking, drugs, and parties actually never happened in real life; but it was still fun to watch. If the movie ended up being an exact representation of how Facebook got started, it would honestly be boring as hell -- just Zuckerberg in his dorm room sitting at his desk coding for hours on end. Who seriously wants to watch that?
In other words, it’s completely okay to make up scenes in order to make the movie more dramatic and fast-paced, or whatever style the director is going for. I agree, though, that there is a line, but screen writers these days are smart enough not to cross it. And by crossing the line, I mean putting in explosions, car chases, and pretty ladies in a film about the history of Apple -- now THAT would be ridiculous. But so what if Wozniak was skeptical about his operating system in the movie when that really wasn’t the case. It shouldn’t change how you enjoy the movie. Plus, this is only one clip -- one minute from a 122-minute film. We shouldn’t even be criticizing something that we’ve only seen 0.8% of anyway.
However, this isn’t the only Steve Jobs biopic that will be coming out. If you recall, Sony Pictures is also working on a movie about the history of Apple and its fearless founders, only this time, Wozniak himself is involved, along with Aaron Sorkin, who is one of the greatest screenwriters of our time. While this Sony version may be a little more accurate than JOBS, though -- thanks to the Woz’s help -- I'll be surprised if it’s any more accurate than JOBS. Sorkin was the one who penned The Social Network, and he’s always been one to credit the fact that non-fiction films and documentaries are two completely different beasts.
In any case, if you really want to know what the early years of Apple were like, I hope you would be smart enough to not rely on a couple of Hollywood movie to accurately inform you about the company's history. You’re better off reading Jobs’ and Wozniak’s respective books, “Steve Jobs” and “iWoz”. Both give a clearer picture of what Apple was like in the early days, and they better reflect the relationship that the dynamic duo had back in the late 70s and 80s. Happy reading!