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A Review: "The Social Network"
October 11, 2010 - Scott Muska
"The Social Network" ****
"The Social Network" is a story about the creation of Facebook, which made me skeptical at first, because you'd think it'd be difficult to make a movie about the creation of a social networking site interesting to someone who doesn't know anything at all about HTML code. But when David Fincher ("Fight Club," "Seven") directs anything, I feel like I owe him nine bucks no matter what the film is about, so I took myself on a movie date to see it.
The "The Social Network" was easily better than any of this summer's releases that I saw, or anything I've seen since. It should be noted that I still haven't seen "Inception," which I guess could immediately discredit me as somebody who should be allowed to review movies in the first place. I promise I've seen many, many movies, though, and the only reason I wasn't able to see "Inception" this summer was because I was too busy sitting in front of my computer logged onto Facebook. The film begins with Zuckerberg getting dumped by his girlfriend, Erica Albright, due largely (okay, completely) to his inconsiderate, inappropriate personality and obsession with social status -- two traits that become the themes that the film essentially revolves around. Zuckerberg does what most male college sophomores would do: He returns to his dorm room and starts alleviating his mini fridge from its burden of beer storage. Then he does what probably not many other college sophomores could do: He creates a website where Harvard students can rate the looks of one female student compared to another. It got so much traffic when it went live that it crashed the university's computer network. This was the beginning of a website and idea that would ultimately transform into Facebook.
Seriously. Zuckerberg created a website from scratch, while he was drunk and simultaneously blogging about his hatred of women and details of his creation of the site. He did this all initially because he was mad at a girl. That is so unbelievably amazing to me. If I'm upset over a girl, I just sit in a dark room and listen to Bright Eyes records for a few hours.
From there, the story progresses through the next few years of Zuckerberg's life. It showcases the rise and fall of his friendship and partnership with Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin and the turmoil he faced from Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, privileged twin brothers who felt Zuckerberg stole their idea when he made Facebook. (The extremely unlikeable twins were both played by one actor named Armie Hammer, who looks uncannily like Brendan Fraser, an actor I cannot stand for some reason, which just added to my disdain for them. Special effects are cool, except when they're making two Brendan Fraser doppelgangers out of one.) It also deals with his encounters and eventual partnership with human trainwreck Shaun Parker (Justin Timberlake), who is most well-known for creating Napster.
The story is split up brilliantly by reenactments of two lawsuit depositions that were going on simultaneously. Zuckerberg was sued by both the Winklevoss brothers and Saverin. Saverin files suit against Zuckerberg after he is basically forced out of his share of the company.
"The Social Network" really didn't miss in any way I can think of, but I'm obviously not on the same level of criticism as Roger Ebert. All I know is I really liked it. The story was great. The casting was also absolutely excellent., and that helped the film in two huge ways. The first was that every main character seemed to be a more-than-adequate actor, so the dialogue was very realistic (take it from a kid who knows socially inept people like Zuckerberg as well as self-entitled rich boys like the Winklevoss twins). Writer Aaron Sorkin ("A Few Good Men," "Charlie Wilson's War") also deserves props for capturing the character's voices, especially since he's an older dude who probably doesn't talk to a bunch of college kids all too often. The second was that they casted people who were really, really good at pulling off being unlikeable. I already mentioned Hammer's portrayal of the Winklevosses. Eisenberg did a great job with Zuckerberg's smart sarcastic remarks toward authority figures (they were hilarious), and an even better job of making him seem unlikeable. (I kind of think Eisenberg is unlikeable in every other movie I've ever seen him in, though, so maybe that's just the way he is.) Justin Timberlake even made himself unlikeable, and he's the most likeable guy in the world. JT is so awesome he even made Jimmy Fallon look funny for three minutes on Fallon's late night show a couple weeks ago. If you don't believe me, I've posted the link to the side of this blog.
The only main character who was likable at all was Saverin (Andrew Garfield), and he ends up being screwed over the worst. That's what adds true emotion to the story, the one thing it would've been missing if it had focused on the feud between Zuckerberg and the twins, who all seemed pretty devoid of true emotion. I hate to say it, but Green Day was right with that "Nice Guys Finish Last" song they released.
What I liked most about "The Social Network," though, was how it made me really think after I saw the movie. It made me consider the social implications of Facebook, and it made me think about Zuckerberg's motivation for constructing it in the first place. He did it for a girl, the same reason so many boys and men do so many things. His hang-up on one specific girl and his desire to prove her wrong while elevating his social status (pretty much so he could get more girls) led to a social media website that has changed cultural interaction, most likely forever. If you think about it, Zuckerberg's feelings for a girl have indirectly resulted in the initial commencement of (probably) millions of relationships since Facebook became popular. I'm sure there are countless people out there who are together and in love who wouldn't have ever even met if they didn't have a Facebook. There are probably millions more who had their hearts broken because they met someone they never would've crossed paths with if not for Facebook.
It's pretty rare that you can find a film that makes you think about such sociological and cultural issues while also being so extremely entertaining. All I wanted to do when I got home was watch the new episode of "Boardwalk Empire," but I kept thinking about Facebook. Weird.
The only problem I had with the film is that my most important question wasn't answered or even undressed:
Who came up with the idea to invent the poke?