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The Social Network

A 2010 movie directed by David Fincher.

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4.5/5 "Facebook Me!"

  • Jan 31, 2011
Rating:
+5
Upon first hearing about The Social Network my first thought was the same as just about everyone else's.  "Who in the hell wants to watch a movie about the creation of FACEBOOK?" But I'd seen crazier things happen.  Much crazier things happen.  I figure if we can make a movie based on a theme park ride, making a movie about the creation of Facebook can't be so bad.  Of course, the movie is about much more than JUST the creation of Facebook.  If it were just the creation of Facebook it would probably be a pretty unappealing movie, to say the least.  The Social Network is about more than just an idea that changed the whole world... it's actually more about the people who created and showed just what it did to the world as well.

The story of Facebook is one so old and well known that making a movie that hashes it out again just kind of seems like padding now.  The movie opens with Mark Zuckerberg getting dumped by this girl because he doesn't realize he's a jerk.  So in his rage he goes back to his room, writes some nasty things on a blog and then creates a site where the students of Harvard can go and rate the girls as hot or not.  This draws the attention of the board who feel that this was overstepping the line.  After this, however, the Winklevoss brothers become interested in his ability to program.  They invite him into a business venture and he agrees... but eventually takes matters into his own hands and eventually creates Facebook.  And as it starts to grow so do tensions among friends.  What The Social Network really seems to be about is how we connect and disconnect from those around us.

There isn't much to The Social Network.  It is certainly far better than I thought it would be.  The characters are certainly not that likable.  But you can sympathize a little.  Especially with Eduardo as he works hard for what amounts to nothing in the end.  But the actors do a good job at least.  Although Jesse Eisenberg is not quite as noteworthy as he is made out to be.  He's not bad by any means, but this is who Jesse Eisenberg always is.  That awkward nerdish kid.  I suppose that makes him the perfect choice to play Zuckerberg (or Michael Cera, but Michael Cera certainly didn't have the hair for it) but I'm not sure that just being able to play a more arrogant you is really all that Oscar worthy.  But considering that his last major thing was Zombieland... it can be considered quite a turn.

It's hard to talk about The Social Network without talking about the cultural impact.  Or rather how it showcases our culture as it is.  I will say that The Social Network is daring.  It is one of the few movies that is willing to put it's foot in the door and showcase a younger generation doing what younger people in the younger generation do.  From using actual phrases like, "Facebook me," to showing people constantly on laptops and computers.  There's even a portion where they're showing people playing video games, although you don't see much of it. 

On the other hand the movie shows there was also a lot of partying involved as well.  Particularly by Sean Parker (portrayed by Justin Timberlake here).  How much of the movie is true and how much of the movie isn't is hardly important in the long run.  I will say that what I do like is that it is actually willing to actually show the digital age in action with much more than just cell phones.

As I said, if the movie were just about Facebook it wouldn't be quite as fun.  It actually has to have something compelling.  And in ways it does.  It shows us how friendships were heavily damaged and it shows us betrayal and it shows us that as you rise to the top you'll make enemies... as well as having people wanting to take a piece of the pie.  Beyond that, who CAN you trust as you rise and rise and rise?  So the story actually is about much more than just the creation of Facebook. 

Another thing that's quite nice is that the movie is edited fairly well.  It's told in a fairly linear fashion but jumps between the present day of the movie and the past.  In the present day Mark Zuckerberg is being sued by the Winklevoss brothers as well as his friend Eduardo.  And it also goes and shows the meat of the story... which is how they came to get there. 

If anything the only real problem with The Social Network is that it spends a lot of time with one case than another.  By that I mean, the Winklevoss brothers start off being an important part of the film but as the film progresses we just sort of forget about them and then at some point they finally decide to sue.  We simply didn't spend enough time.  We do, however spend enough time with Eduardo and that's probably much more important in this case.  It's just that we watch with a magnifying glass as one lawsuit comes to fruition (Eduardo) while another just sort of happens in a snap.  At least the Winklevoss brothers aren't forgotten entirely.  The movie also starts off trying to hit the ground running.  It takes a moment to realize that the movie wants to jump between past and present.

On the other hand, it's a good ride because it's got some sharp and clever writing.  There are moments when you'll laugh while watching The Social Network and not sure if you should be.  There are other times when you'll be watching and appreciating the fast, snappy and often clever dialog. 

But that also brings about another small problem with The Social Network.  There are some parts that move a little too fast.  Not dialog snippets.  It's actually primarily the end which moves fast.  How the movie sort of feels like it has to wrap everything  up and then  ultimately does.  Getting to that point was fun, but then suddenly characters meet their fates a little too fast.  At least Sean Parker does.  And it's disappointing that all we get is a, "What happened to Sean Parker?" kind of moment.  Likewise when it comes to the Winklevoss brothers and Eduardo we have to settle for the words on screen telling us the fates of the characters involved.  Sure it's a non-fiction movie (we assume) but it's annoying that each time we watch a movie like this they can't take the extra ten minutes and show us the future of the characters. 

It's a minor complaint, however.  I actually don't have very many major complaints about The Social Network, but I will say that it was a very good movie with a well crafted screenplay.  Seriously, the writing is the best part about it and really shows a sign of the times that very few movies are willing to show nowadays.  And it's fine that they don't, but at the same time it's a little embarassing that we had to receive a movie about Facebook to really let us know we were in a digital age.  What separates The Social Network from other movies that try such as... well... Live Free or Die Hard... is that Live Free or Die Hard isn't exactly meant to be taken seriously and seems to pretend that computers are wizards, but The Social Network keeps them grounded in reality and actually shows you kind of can make a drama that incorporates social networking.  A lot of forensic shows on TV do it... but consider most of the time the result is, "Yeah, this guys a pedophile," where as in The Social Network it actually shows Social Networking as a part of every day life and every day culture.  That's not exactly something that should be looked upon lightly.  Dozens of film makers want to do something like that but generally can't.  So my hat is off to David Fincher for being able to do it without making it a laughing stock.  It's also nice that David Fincher doesn't waste time with jokes like how someone is just too old to understand Facebook or how someone is just to old to understand the younger generation.  The generation gap isn't even there.  It's concerned with telling a straight shot story... but with leaving a good deal of bull pucky out that most other film makers would feel has to include. 

I guess what I'm saying is that it's a sigh of relief to know that David Fincher didn't try too hard to connect with the generation and instead decided to just show them as they really were in the digital age.  Not all of it can be taken for granted, of course, but it is nice to know that you can show we're now in the 21st century instead of the 20th by doing more than just showing cell phones and people who know how to hack computers (which was actually a popular film trend in the 90's).  David Fincher has certainly opened a door here.

It's a surprisingly good, funny movie about rising to the top, friendship, betrayal and trust.  Themes that so many movies usually outright refuse to take seriously in the digital age.  In the past we've seen Facebook, Myspace and video games reduced to being convenient plot devices or showing us how strange young people are (in short, for comedic effect).  The Social Network seems to use much of it to humanize the characters.  Even if a lot of it has a dramatic touch, it's the fact that we're dealing with events that are populated by brain-dead characters who have spent so much time in front of a computer that they don't know how to function in the real world.  It's actually quite refreshing to see a film like that that drops some of the stereotypes for a moment.  We come to be angry with Zuckerberg and pity Eduardo while thinking Sean Parker is a jerk who is just out to get a piece of the pie.  It works.  But we get there based on the characters actions and not necessarily because they sit behind the computer for a lot of the film (they actually don't).

On the other hand, a lot of people say the film portrays Zuckerberg as a jerk.  That's probably only half true, really.  It shows how Zuckerberg was willing to do anything he could to get Facebook live (even showing his infamous Business Card that says "I'm CEO BITCH!") and what it cost him.  But in the end the character is not without sympathy or remorse for the events which transpire throughout.  The final scene in particular shows that even Zuckerberg is actually a human being after all.  In short it's not exactly the most positive portrayal of Zuckerberg, but in the end you're not as likely to leave thinking he was a heartless asshole either.  I've heard rumors that Zuckerberg actually enjoyed The Social Network, but someone will have to check that.

So is it worth seeing?  Most certainly it is.  I'm not sure if this'll get people to understand they can use social networking websites for more than comedic effect (or catching the pedophile on Law and Order) but it's definitely a start.  The Social Network is sharp and clever but it doesn't lack heart.  Certainly a fantastic film to be sure.

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January 31, 2011
"It's hard to talk about The Social Network without talking about the cultural impact" That is one great statement there. I guess the reason why I enjoyed this movie is how it brings human shortfalls such as greed, pride, jealousy and ambition all under one movie. I think this movie didn't have such an inspired plot, but the direction and the execution of the screenplay was what made it feel so compelling. Great review! Now I need to send out a newsletter tonight....
 
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More The Social Network reviews
review by . October 03, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
4 ½ STARS: Can't Make A Few BILLION Without Making A Few Enemies...
“The Social Network” is a film directed by David Fincher with script by Aaron Sorkin; the film is based on the book by Ben Mezrich called “The Accidental Billionaires“. “Social Network”. God, how those words now mean quite a lot to a great many number of people these days. Right now, I am posting a review on a “social networking” site called lunch.com about a film that portrays the beginnings of one of America’s most famous “social …
review by . November 24, 2010
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First of all it's statistically impossible for there to be more geniuses in China than there are people in the United States. Statistically 1 in 50 people is a genius - at least as it's defined by Mensa, and that's probably generous. Thus China would need 50 times as many people as the United States to have their geniuses exceed our population. Alas, they only have four times as many.         It is this sort of blatant disregard for facts and basic science …
review by . February 03, 2011
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Words are weapons in THE SOCIAL NETWORK. For the most part, words are used vivaciously to accuse and to criticize Mark Zuckerberg's decisions on the road to becoming the billionaire he is today. After all, the tagline for David Fincher's THE SOCIAL NETWORK sums up the movie's point of being: "You don't get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies." Even if Aaron Sorkin, with his incredibly human and detailed dialogue, adapted Ben Mezrich's semi-fictional …
review by . February 14, 2011
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Who would think that the 2010 Oscar race appears to be down to a stuffy piece of British manners about a stuttering king and a sparky commoner, and a static legal procedural piece about the invention of a social network site?  Of course, those descriptions don't do justice to the quality of directing, writing, and acting in The King's Speech (which I have reviewed separately) and The Social Network.      The key to the attraction of these movies isn't in the …
review by . December 15, 2010
Unlike the many people who are part of a social network to me I felt socially awkward seeing The Social Network with my family since the movie plays differently for me than my genetically connected counterparts. For those of you who don't have a computer and have been living in a cave in the middle of nowhere The Social Network is the semi-realistic tale of Mark Zuckerberg, a sophomore at Harvard who, after a post dumped drunken escapade creates a little website called Facebook. Ah Facebook …
review by . October 12, 2010
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The Pirates of Silicon Valley 2?
Alright, so I have to admit, I'm somewhat of a Facebook fan boy. Not the type that is completely consumed by Facebook 24/7, but the kind that loves the idea that some dude from Harvard turned a website into a $25 Billion dollar business and he's only 26. Also let me put this one out there, I'm sick of the whole "down with Facebook" mini movement that people are trying to get started because Facebook wants their ads to be relevant to you.      With that …
review by . August 30, 2011
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I take back every bad thing I ever said about Justin Timberlake. It's that he came riding in on the back of a popular boy band, and we all know how that usually turns out, right? Well, if you were among the many, many Timberlake bashers, you may take heart in the fact that his singing hasn't really changed one bit. However, he has proven to be a great pop music innovator, but what really surprised me is his acting ability. In The Social Network, he plays Napster founder Sean Parker, the charismatic …
review by . August 20, 2011
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    In the opening scene of Social Network we eavesdrop on a conversation between Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and his girlfriend. At the end of the scene Mark's now ex-girlfriend sums up his treatment of people in a succinct statement. She told him that he would probably do something big and complain that girls didn’t like him because he was a nerd. She went on to say that this was a lie. That girls wouldn’t like him because he was an a-hole. He went on to make …
review by . October 09, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
If The Social Network is about brilliant but shallow people building a brilliant but shallow website making scads of money and screwing their co-conspirators in the process, then this movie deserves four plus stars. it's a little boring, but the points are made; unfortunately, it couldn't make me care.      It's a cleverly written(note:  clever - not brilliant,) competently directed, well acted movie about characters as devoid of substance as facebook itself. …
review by . October 01, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Black Sheep likes The Social Network
THE SOCIAL NETWORK   Written by Aaron Sorkin   Directed by David Fincher   Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake      Mark Zuckerberg: There is a difference between being obsessive and being motivated.      With over 500 million members worldwide, Facebook has come a long way since it was just a little social networking site kicking around a few prestigious colleges in the United States.  In fact, …
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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.

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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, Jessie Eisenberg, Brenda Song, Andrew Garfield, Rashida Jones, The Social Network

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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