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Kurt Jensen
Source: Catholic News Service

Ashton Kutcher and Josh Gad star in a scene from the movie "Jobs."
"Jobs" (Open Road) may not be the worst biographical film ever made. But it certainly earns an unenviable place in the pantheon of lame screen profiles.

Ashton Kutcher, directed by Joshua Michael Stern from a script by Matt Whiteley, portrays Steve Jobs (1955-2011), the founder of the Apple computer empire, as an amoral, monomaniacal tyrant who cheats all who come into contact with him. When he's not abusing co-workers, he's being roundly applauded, in the manner of a Broadway star, on his way to becoming a self-proclaimed technology guru.

The ugly truths about Jobs' self-centered personality have been widely documented. So too has the boardroom battle that briefly ousted him from Apple, only to have him noisily return a few years later, evicting his opponents along the way. That's all here, right down to his annoying habit of always parking in a handicapped spot at corporate headquarters.

No one should expect biographies of highly driven people to show them without flaws or moral compromises. "Jobs," however, fails abysmally at fundamental storytelling.

How did this man get the way he was? It's not here. There's only the outward behavior, which veers wildly between narcissism and schizophrenia.

Especially troubling is the sequence in which Jobs kicks live-in girlfriend Chris-Ann Brennan (Ahna O'Reilly) out of his house simply because she's pregnant and he doesn't want to take any responsibility for the baby.

Some years later, we see the child in question, Lisa (Annika Bertea), sleeping on the couch at Jobs' palatial home. How did she get there? We're left to guess.

When not hectoring colleagues, like the strangely faithful Steve Wozniak (Josh Gad), or cheating his co-founders out of stock options as Apple is about to become a publicly traded corporation, Jobs speaks in aphorisms as inspirational music swells. "How does anybody know what they want if they've never even seen it?" he asks.

By the time he's introducing the iPod, his cult of personality is in full force, and he's emitting platitudes such as "When you can touch somebody's heart, that's limitless."

Rival corporations such as IBM and Microsoft appear only in discussions. At one point, Jobs calls up Bill Gates at Microsoft and curses him for allegedly stealing software ideas.

Whatever these two men's respective places in history may turn out to be, the stultifying "Jobs" sadly gives us no more insight into its chosen subject than it does into his unseen rival.

The film contains cohabitation, two scenes of drug use, a couple of instances of profanity and frequent crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.

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Charles de Foucauld: Born into an aristocratic family in Strasbourg, France, Charles was orphaned at the age of six, raised by his devout grandfather, rejected the Catholic faith as a teenager and joined the French army. Inheriting a great deal of money from his grandfather, Charles went to Algeria with his regiment, but not without his mistress, Mimi. <br /><br />When he declined to give her up, he was dismissed from the army. Still in Algeria when he left Mimi, Charles reenlisted in the army. Refused permission to make a scientific exploration of nearby Morocco, he resigned from the service. With the help of a Jewish rabbi, Charles disguised himself as a Jew and in 1883 began a one-year exploration that he recorded in a book that was well received. <br /><br />Inspired by the Jews and Muslims whom he met, Charles resumed the practice of his Catholic faith when he returned to France in 1886. He joined a Trappist monastery in Ardeche, France, and later transferred to one in Akbes, Syria. Leaving the monastery in 1897, Charles worked as gardener and sacristan for the Poor Clare nuns in Nazareth and later in Jerusalem. In 1901 he returned to France and was ordained a priest. <br /><br />Later that year Charles journeyed to Beni-Abbes, Morocco, intending to found a monastic religious community in North Africa that offered hospitality to Christians, Muslims, Jews, or people with no religion. He lived a peaceful, hidden life but attracted no companions. <br /><br />A former army comrade invited him to live among the Tuareg people in Algeria. Charles learned their language enough to write a Tuareg-French and French-Tuareg dictionary, and to translate the Gospels into Tuareg. In 1905 he came to Tamanrasset, where he lived the rest of his life. A two-volume collection of Charles' Tuareg poetry was published after his death. <br /><br />In early 1909 he visited France and established an association of laypeople who pledged to live by the Gospels. His return to Tamanrasset was welcomed by the Tuareg. In 1915 Charles wrote to Louis Massignon: “The love of God, the love for one’s neighbor…All religion is found there…How to get to that point? Not in a day since it is perfection itself: it is the goal we must always aim for, which we must unceasingly try to reach and that we will only attain in heaven.”   <br /><br />The outbreak of World War I led to attacks on the French in Algeria. Seized in a raid by another tribe, Charles and two French soldiers coming to visit him were shot to death on December 1, 1916. <br />Five religious congregations, associations, and spiritual institutes (Little Brothers of Jesus, Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart, Little Sisters of Jesus, Little Brothers of the Gospel and Little Sisters of the Gospel) draw inspiration from the peaceful, largely hidden, yet hospitable life that characterized Charles. He was beatified on November 13, 2005. American Catholic Blog You know, O my God, I have never desired anything but to love you, and I am ambitious for no other glory.

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