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The Social Network

A 2010 movie directed by David Fincher.

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Pull the Plug

  • Nov 7, 2010
Rating:
+1

I've been reading and listening to a lot of hype surrounding The Social Network, so I was really excited to watch it. People have been comparing it to Pirates of Silicon Valley, which I absolutely love, and it was rated very highly by critics and viewers alike. The excitement and anticipation was quickly dampened by the first few minutes of the film. 

It starts with the founder of The Facebook, as it was initially called, Mark Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenberg), condescendingly talking to his girlfriend (played by Rooney Mara). This scene and the conversation that ensures is an important part of the film because it sparks much of Zuckerberg's actions later on, especially as it relates to The Facebook. Unfortunately, this significant moment fell flat as I wondered how Erica Albright could have dated such an asshole in the first place. How did she have conversations with someone who jumped from topic to topic like Zuckerberg did? Were they in a long-term relationship or was it just casual dating? I got exhausted trying to follow their dialog for the few minutes they were in the bar and instead silently asked myself questions that were never answered by the film. I also kept wondering whether Zuckerberg had ADD based on the way he acted and talked throughout the entire film. 

Eisenberg's portrayal of Zuckerberg was not a stellar performance as many have claimed. His acting annoyed me during most of the film; he tried too hard to be quirky, different, antisocial, and intelligent. Is Zuckerberg really like this? I wouldn't know because I've never been interested in the creator of Facebook just like I was never interested in learning more about Tom from Myspace. These entrepreneurs have never struck me as geniuses in the computer world. Instead, I see them as opportunists who adapted ideas at the right time for maximum popularity. Since I couldn't relate to the main character or respect the acting qualities of Eisenberg, the entire experience was dampened.

Despite my disappointment with Eisenberg, there were other stellar acting performances that made the film enjoyable. Eduardo Saverin (played by Andrew Garfield) was an intriguing cast for the CEO of Facebook. I had enjoyed his performance as Anton from The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, and I expected much in this film. I wasn't disappointed. Garfield stole the show, and I was surprised that he made a CEO of a company actually look appealing and innocent for a viewing audience. I'm so used to the opposite being depicted--the CEO is the greedy bastard who steals money and eventually the company from the original creator. The best part of the film was seeing the relationship between these two loners disintegrate. Unfortunately, there were many questions about their friendship that were never answered. How did they even become friends considering they were from different majors? Perhaps they bonded in the one math class that Zuckerberg remembered that Saverin created an algorithm for. Or perhaps it's purely because they are both Jewish. It's never made clear, so it was difficult to relate to the troubles the pair were having without some background information.

The second stellar performance was by Justin Timberlake, who played Sean Parker, the founder of Napster. I've enjoyed Timberlake's performances in the past, always a bit surprised that such a musical talent could be a highly capable actor. I never realized that Parker got a piece of the Facebook action, and I found this part of the plot exciting. Parker was the stick that drove a wedge between the two college friends. Was he an asset to the creation of Facebook? I would have to agree with Zuckerberg. He had some great ideas that made sense, especially when I discussed the computer programming aspects of the film with my husband. 

The other performances in the film were sub-par and unimportant. For example, did we really need the emphasis on Zuckerberg's ex-girlfriend? It made sense at the beginning, but the fact that this failed relationship was mentioned at various points during the film felt contrived. Director David Fincher wanted to depict how pathetic, angry, and hurt Zuckerberg was and how it drove much of his success (all surrounding his ineptitude with his ex). However, Zuckerberg's antisocial behavior and intelligence successfully isolated him from everyone at Harvard. Being a dick to his ex was just added fodder. I agree with broadcaster Leo Laporte who called the film "anti-geek and misogynistic." It was disappointing to see computer programmers portrayed in such a light--being "plugged in" all the time and disconnected with the world around them. Plus, there were no admirable women in the film other than the associate lawyer, whose final assessment of Zuckerberg I completely disagreed with. 

The plot dragged on, mainly because of the constant flashbacks between the past and two current lawsuits. These portions were very choppy. If the story had been portrayed in a linear fashion, I would have enjoyed it more. Plus, there were too many "silent" moments where the people were just staring at each other intently or randomly out a window, like when Zuckerberg says it's raining during one of the depositions. The ending was the worst part, though, because it was too corny and predictable. 

The film tried to be as exciting as Pirates of Silicon Valley, but these portions came off as overly-dramatized and fake rather than realistically depicting the history of the company and friends. Many of these scenes, like the groupies, drinking, and sex and drugs, was stated to have been dramatized by both the director and Zuckerberg. Well, sex and drugs do sell, so I understand why Fincher included them. Who wants to watch a bunch of nerds write code? Instead, let's show the programmers being hired based on how many shots they can drink while hacking. This was way more exciting! A new drinking game has been created for all those cool nerds looking for something to do during the weekend.

Adding insult to injury, the music was uneventful. It took a lot of thinking to recall one song from The Social Network, which is unusual because music drives my emotional reactions to a film. I remember there were many quiet points that were highlighted as dramatic scenes. During these times, I found myself yawning in boredom, getting annoyed that my back was hurting, and wondering when the film would end. The only songs that stood out occurred during the parties, gotta love that dance music, and at the end of the film during the credits, "Baby, You're a Rich Man" performed by The Beatles. Too bad it was saved for last. The soundtrack was very electronic and too dark for the film, which was dramatic but not depressing like the music.

The camera angles and directing were nothing to rave about either. There were some interesting close ups of the characters during intense scenes. The use of the weather to depict the emotions of the characters was clever as well. Still, nothing stood out as unique or groundbreaking. I have seen much of this done with other films and docudramas. 

I really wanted to care more about The Social Network,especially since I'm such a fan of Facebook. I just couldn't. It tried too hard to be stylized and serious, and it didn't focus on the relationships of the characters enough for my tastes. There were some predictable themes like power and greed corrupting friends, everyone wanting a piece of a billion dollar idea, being a loner versus a groupie, etc. I didn't like the constant switches between the past and present, which were not as tastefully or artfully done as it was in 500 Days of Summer. Plus, the film could have been cut down with more editing. Over two hours for this story...really? Did we need to see Zuckerberg's hiring techniques? Did we need to see so much of the Winklevoss twins twiddling their thumbs in annoyance as they tried to contact Zuckerberg for updates on their own website project? Also, what was with Brenda Song's role as Eduardo's girlfriend? Just another psycho woman, (cough) groupie, following the nerds to stardom. I guess she was really desperate to breakout from her goodie-two-shoes Disney roles that have been defining most of her acting career.

Still, the film wasn't a total loss. It was an average movie. The screenplay and directing was competent but not as great as Pirates of Silicon Valley or Inception. It wasn't the film of 2010, and it didn't move me to appreciate or feel differently about Facebook. The best thing about The Social Network was the conversation it sparked about creating my own online business with my husband. We also talked about some of the technical terms and issues that were hinted at but in more depth. This exchange made the film worth seeing, not any information I gleaned about Facebook or the relationships between all these millionaires and billionaires.

My opinion and reaction to the film seems to be unusual, and I'm sure that many will enjoy it purely because they haven't seen anything about social networking before.

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December 20, 2010
I loved this movie. After hearing unnassuming people call it "The Facebook Movie" and therefore loose interest in seeing it, I just had to see it when it released. And after much praise, I did. Good review.
December 20, 2010
Thanks for checking out my review, Ryan. There were parts I really enjoyed about the film and other parts that were just "so so." "Pirates of Silicon Valley" is my all time favorite "computer" related film. :)
 
December 05, 2010
I have to disagree and say that the female attorney at the end did sum up the actions of the zuckerberg character "as I understand it is not zuckerberg himself. (or so I'm told). I like facebook, obviously it's a great social and marketing tool, but they definitely hollywood-ized the story, and the zuckerberg character came off as unlikable, ignorant and one of those people who tries way to hard to be 'cool' and never, ever measures up. It was the first film in a long time where I actually hated the protagonist.
December 07, 2010
Hi Lester! Thanks for checking out my review. The female attorney was a weird character for me. It felt like a last minute effort to say that Zuckerbeg really isn't all that bad after the silly Hollywoodnized film. A lot of people say the protagonist was really difficult to like. For myself, I just felt indifferent, lol, because I knew this wasn't a realistic portrayal or true documentary about the history of Facebook.
 
November 24, 2010
I was never a fan of Facebook, so after this review, I guess I'm even lesser of a fan! ;p In any case, teenagers (esp. those in corporate world) are just not my cup of tea, no matter how many billion $ they have! Harry Potter simply doesn't exist out there in the real world! ;-)
December 01, 2010
Hi Sharrie!

Thanks so much for reading my review about The Social Network. I agree with you about teenage billionaires, lol.
January 04, 2011
Just saw this movie on dvd. I like the guy even less after the movie!
January 04, 2011
Yeah, the character in the film is really despicable! Glad you were able to watch it on DVD.
 
November 11, 2010
Interesting review. Haven't seen this film yet. Don't know if I'll go and watch it or not. I had no idea Brenda Song was in this film. I'm guessing she had a minor role in this film based on your description of the role she plays. But yeah, I've heard of Brenda Song before and that's thanks to Jasmine making me watch all those disney shows back when we were dating, lol. I actually think she's quite talented, but it sounds like her role was pretty lame based on this review. It's also cool that Timberlake was also in the film. He's always been a surprisingly good actor, so I'm not shocked that he probably did a good job here. Nice review. :-)
November 14, 2010
It's definitely a rental if you don't want to spend the extra cash to see it in theaters.

I'm a fan of Brenda Song, but I was really disappointed in her performance in this film. I didn't get the point of her character. 

LOL! I'm sure you know Song from all her works on the Disney channel. That was Jasmine's favorite television station.

I'm a little disappointed more people aren't enjoying this review. Although I was harsher than most, I did present a reasonable explanation for my lower rating. Plus, I still said it was an average film, lol! Oh well. I guess it's difficult to rate against the grain and expect positive remarks. :-P
 
November 09, 2010
I liked it so much I nominated you for a lunch Award. I like all you had to say except what I loved you did not and that is fine. The movie the Social Network is a very new kind of movie of it's time. Aaron Sorkin the writer for the play did I think a wonderful job with the writing. The acting was good considering it was based on college age behavior and at times I'm not sure what. I think this movie gave the general public an insight into the man who created Face Book but how accurate that portrayal is I'm not sure. I did like to see though from my own perspective how a social network like this was created. The movie for me was interesting on many levels but I do like all the questions in your review you brought up. If I read your review before seeing the movie it would only make me more interested to see it..
November 09, 2010
Hi Nicole!

Thanks so much for joining Lunch, so you could read and comment on my review. Also, muchas gracias for nominating it for an award! That was really sweet of you. :)

You brought up some great points! I'm glad the review would have intrigued you enough to see it. It's worth watching, but I rate it as more an average film rather than something amazing.
 
November 08, 2010
I like you review... but I don't agree with everything you said... I actually think The Social Network is very good modern movie.... and you could say the same thing about Citizen Kane as far people liking something just because they haven't seen anything about that specific subject before... that really doesn't matter and it's normal to be that way... That's why TSN will be a stand-out and a movie about let's say Myspace will always be 2 levels behind...
November 08, 2010
Hi Julian! Thanks so much for dropping by to read my review. Yeah, a lot of people disagree with what I wrote, which is to be expected considering the raves it's gotten. Gosh...it's been ages since I've seen "Citizen Kane." I don't remember what I thought of it. Great points made!
 
November 07, 2010
Great review! I think it's clear I enjoyed the film way more than you did. I think Eisenberg's performance was nuanced and layered. He was incredibly irritating but he was supposed to be. Also, I felt bot Eisenberg, and Sorkin's brilliant screenplay, gave insight into why Zuckerberg was the way he was. As to whether he really was that way, that's a whole other question.
November 08, 2010
Thanks for checking out my review, Joseph. Yeah, almost everyone enjoyed the film more than me, lol! My problem with Eisenberg is that he is incredibly irritating in all the films I've seen him in. His performance here just didn't seem unique enough. Maybe he was slightly more annoying because he got to act pretentious and nerdy. I just can't place my finger on it. Great point made about the screenplay. I'm curious about the book after seeing this film. I wonder how much is based on fact versus fiction.
November 08, 2010
Apparently, the differences are minor ... for instance, when the twins (who are played by one actor!) find out Facebook has gone international after their rowing match, that supposedly didn't happen until later or had I already happened, I can't remember. Suffice it to say, it wasn't the day of the rowing match. Anyway, the discrepancies are mostly like that.
November 08, 2010
Yeah, I love when Hollywood does the twin thing with one actor. Always a lot of fun. Not a bad change to the details, though. The rowing match was a dramatic moment to find it out for the film purposes. Interesting to know that the differences are rather minor.
 
November 07, 2010
amazing write up as always. I liked this movie for the most part but I guess it was because of the direction but I can see the flaws of the Zukerberg character. I bet they had to over-dramatize in some ways to show more 'meat' to the character when there really wasn't that much in there. I need to read the book on what this movie was based on. Thanks! feature time!
November 08, 2010
Hey William! You weren't the first one to rate it for once. (cries) ;)

Thanks for reading it. I was afraid everyone was going to start throwing tomatoes at me after seeing how much I was disappointed with this piece. It's nice to know people are enjoying the different perspective!

I agree with you. They definitely over-dramatized this piece to add meat to a probably rather boring story, lol!

If you do read the book before me, let me know what you think. I'm really curious as to how it's different from the film.

And, thanks for the feature in the group!! So happy! :)
 
November 07, 2010
Excellent review, I have heard mixed things about this movie but it seems most people say JT was good in this.
November 07, 2010
Thanks for checking out my review, Alex. JT was definitely well-casted for the role of Sean Parker. Have you seen it yet?
 
November 07, 2010
I wouldn't necessarily call your reaction unusual as I have heard this from others. I agree with some points like the plot lagging and unnecessary silent moments but, I also enjoyed Eisenberg's take on Zuckerberg. It apparently was completely made up but, I really enjoyed his quick wit and refusal to placate those around him. I've known quite a few computer programmers that tend to be "wired in" and once they're there, there's no interrupting them even for food or drink. I enjoyed your review- it was incredibly well thought out and detailed. Thanks so much for linking me to it!
November 07, 2010
Hey Sam! Nice to know that you don't think it's unusual. I felt like such an outsider until I read @rwellsrwells' review, which mirrored my own feelings.

Unfortunately, I'm not such a fan of Eisenberg. He plays the same types of characters in the films I've seen him in. Nothing was really different here except that he was a person with relevance to everyday life.

Yeah, I've known quite a few computer programmers and computer "nerds" in general. I loved dating these types of individuals (you could say they were my type). I agree with you to a degree, but I still find much of what was depicted as hyped Hollywood jargon, lol.

Really glad you sought out the review and read it! Appreciate your thoughts and feel free to link it to others. :)
 
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Wiki

The Social Network is a 2010 drama film directed by David Fincher about the founding of the social networking website Facebook. The film features an ensemble cast, which consists of Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Brenda Song, Max Minghella, Rooney Mara and Armie Hammer.

The film was written by Aaron Sorkin and adapted from Ben Mezrich's 2009 nonfiction book The Accidental Billionaires. The film is distributed by Columbia Pictures and is set for an October 1, 2010 release. None of the Facebook staff, including founder Mark Zuckerberg, will be involved with the project. One of the co-founders, Eduardo Saverin, was a consultant for Mezrich's book.  The film is distributed by Columbia Pictures and was released on October 1, 2010.

Poster art for "The Social Network"

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Tags

Movies, Drama Movies, Drama, Social Media, Reviews, Facebook, In Theaters, Trailers, 2011 Oscar Nominee, Justin Timberlake, 2010 Movies, Rooney Mara, Mark Zuckerberg, Brenda Song, Andrew Garfield, Rashida Jones, The Social Network, Jessie Eisenberg

Details

Director: David Fincher
Genre: Drama
Release Date: October 01, 2010
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: Aaron Sorkin
Runtime: 121 minutes
Studio: Columbia Pictures
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