The Social Network

Posted: October 1, 2010 in MOVIE REVIEWS

by: Sarah St. John

With 500 million members, 207 countries being serviced and valued at $25 billion, it was only a matter of time before a movie, “The Social Network”, was made based on the phenomenon we all know as Facebook.  The script and story-line was helped with Ben Mezrich’s book entitled “The Accidental Billonaires: The Founding of Facebook.”  The buzz already surrounding this movie is huge, with predictions of it winning “best picture of the year” at the Oscars.  In fact, the very first thing the audience members did after the movie screening was update their Facebook statuses on how good the…um, “Facebook movie” is.

“The Social Network” details the inner workings, technology, money, back-stabbing and lawsuits involved in making Facebook what it is today.  Facebook (formerly known as “thefacebook.com”) was started by Mark Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenberg: “Adventureland”, “Zombieland”) in early 2004.  It started as a social site for Harvard, gradually expanding to other Ivy League schools, then to colleges and high schools across the nation.  It was finally opened to the general public in 2006.  Today, not only is Facebook being used as a social site to stay connected to family and friends, it’s also a source to market businesses, products, services, politics, charities and organizations.  Or, a place to waste time playing games such as “Farmville” or take quizzes such as “Who are your top 5 celebrities.”  But, back to the movie.

Mark Zuckerberg is an awkward, yet brilliant 19-year-old Harvard student who spends most of his free time on the internet, blogging and dabbling with programming, HTML and JavaScript.  In fact, he was offered jobs from Microsoft and AOL when he was still in high school, but he turned them down.  When his girlfriend dumps him due to his poor social skills (although never diagnosed, many argue he may have Aspergers), he creates a site called “Facemash.com” which compares and rates the attractiveness of the girls on campus.  The site gets 22,000 hits in two hours, crashes Harvard’s network (which produces the first lawsuit), and spawns the attention of the Winklevoss twins (played by Armand Hammer’s grandson, Armie Hammer, with the help of body double, Josh Pence). The Winklevoss twins along with their friend, Divya (Max Minghella), approach Mark about coding a site called “Harvard Connection” which would do as the title suggests: connect Harvard students in an online world.  Mark agrees, but runs in a different direction with his best friend, and later the former Facebook CFO, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield).  It was then that “thefacebook.com” came alive.  Of course, as soon as the Winklevoss twins and Divya find out, they start accusing Mark of “stealing their idea” and a big lawsuit commences.  But, what we learn here is that it doesn’t matter whose idea it was.  What matters is who can produce it.

Putting aside all the confusing, fast-paced computer jargon that is repeatedly spewed out of Mark’s mouth, “The Social Network” grabs the audience’s attention and keeps them honed in for the full two hours of screen time.  Thanks to screenwriter, Aaron Sorkin (“The West Wing, “A Few Good Men”), the script is sharp, brilliant and witty.  Thanks to the actors and director, David Fincher (“Fight Club”, “Zodiac”), the cast delivers and nails it to a T.
The film also stars Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker, the guy who started Napster.  Sean teams up with Mark and gives him some of the best advice early on to not fill up the site with ads and to drop “the” and just call it “Facebook” because it is cleaner.  Their new camaraderie starts to push Eduardo out of the picture and forges yet another lawsuit.

Ironically, the movie states “what makes us different from other social sites is Facebook never crashes.”  Um, really?  ‘Cause Facebook crashed off and on the week before the movie opened.  What is also ironic is that Facebook, which serves as a social site, was created by someone with extremely limited social skills.  Throughout the movie, Mark is egotistical, rude, sarcastic and never smiles.  Little did Mark know, a site that was created as a hobby and a way to get girls, would make him the youngest (now 26 years old) billionaire in the world.  However, on the flip side, it also cost him the few closest friendships and relationships he had.  The tagline for “The Social Network” is “you don’t get 500 million friends without making a few enemies”, and Mark sure did make a few enemies along the way.  In a sense, he is an anti-hero.

Mark Zuckerberg himself was not involved in the film in any way and says some of the details of the film are inaccurate.  Knowing this can be somewhat of a frustrating disappointment to the audience as they aren’t sure which parts to believe or not, but one thing is certain: the film is going to be one of the biggest hits at the box office all year.  I am looking forward to seeing it again myself.  But until then, I’m going to sign off here and sign on to Facebook and hope it doesn’t crash.

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