The SOCIAL NETWORK (2010)

TMG Scale 8.0
Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake

The Social Network is the story of Facebook and its creator Mark Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg is a social nerd, but computer genius and a student at Harvard in 2003. The force behind Facebook, indeed Zuckerman himself,  is portrayed as less about making money.  It’s more about trying to be the coolest computer geek on campus and hopefully, getting a hot date.  Such is the world Zuckerberg apparently understands. Baseline human behavior drives success and business.   If the movie portrays him accurately at all, Zuckerberg is incredibly gifted and intelligent. He had a vision and stuck to it. The money, the chicks and the business vampires that come along with it are simply like the reward levels and pitfalls in a video game.

The movie largely feeds off  the inevitable lawsuit based upon the Winklevoss brothers accusation that Zuckerberg stole the Facebook idea from them.   Absolutely priceless is the scene where the socially couth, but business inept Winklevoss boys appeal to the President of Harvard to bring up Zuckerberg on charges of violating the Harvard student handbook. It was a sophomoric strategy that only a political numb-skull and college student might waste their time on. More than any other scene,  it demonstrated  how Zuckerberg was light years ahead intellectually and in business acumen.    Everyone can learn here that ideas come by the billions and are free.  Executing on them is what counts. Zuckerberg created and executed. Others simply thought about it.

The hyper-intellectual and rapid fire dialogue that made screenwriter Arron Sorkin famous in the TV series West Wing, was put to great use throughout this film. Justin Timberlake swept in as Napster founder, Sean Parker in much the way a birthing coach enters a delivery room. His persona and banter with Zuckerberg took this film to another level. (It was like Bradley Whitford as Josh Lyman coming in to save the political day). Timberlake’s fine acting and Sorkin’s razor-edged writing made this film complete.  Some of the comedy is very subtle, but don’t be afraid to really laugh out loud.  I wont ruin it for you,  but it was amazing how sidesplitting one, ill-timed beer bottle toss can be.

There were some inexcusable flaws. The Internet Movie Database lists no less than twenty two people who worked on the sound for this film. Really?  My fourteen year old, deaf and senile dauschound could have done a better job.   The opening scene (and other scenes later) were almost incomprehensible. TMG has perfect hearing (though many women in my life may disagree).  The irritation was beyond terrible sound editing. I was unsure in the opening if Jesse Eisenberg  (as Mark Zuckerberg) was trying out as a hip hop singer or doing an imitation of Michael Cera on a steroid laced, Red Bull bender.

The blending of the present with flashbacks to when events really happened is a useful film technique, but was introduced and utilized very awkwardly. Fortunately, the movie improved tremendously about thirty minutes in. Director David Fincher avoided the tempting but irritating overuse of computer screens and floating cursors and text like in Scott Pilgrim and Catfish.

Whether on Facebook or not, everyone should enjoy this movie. Like Facebook itself, it had a few pimples and irritations, but the people story, the tempo and Sorkin’s great writing made it fun and worthwhile.  I would watch it again. It exceeded my expectations.

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