‘The Social Network’ Review: Good, but Overrated

The Social Network PosterWhen I first heard that there was going to be a “Facebook movie” I wondered, just like everyone else, just how the hell any director was going to fill a major motion picture length with that kind of subject.

Do you show some family spiraling into madness as they all make Farmville their regular source of entertainment, eventually giving up on leaving the house? Tack on some high school drama over status messages and relationship status breakups?

If you’ve been under a rock ever since that time, The Social Network is about the founding of Facebook by CEO Mark Zuckerberg, now a world-reknowned jackass, and the two lawsuits he faced over it’s founding. The Social Network has racked up an astonishing amount of awards and nominations, recently pulling in 8 Academy Award noms and actually winning three major Golden Globes: Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay and another for Best Original Score.

That kind of attention will attract a lot of curious former naysayers, myself included. My husband is a die-hard Facebook hater, so he refused to watch it with me, even though I could tell he was mildly curious about it.

Anyway, first order of business, trailer!

There’s no doubt right away that the acting, direction, and writing are top notch as the opening scene between Mark Zuckerberg, then college dork seeking entrance into elitedom, and his girlfriend Erica Albright lays the groundwork for the tone and quality of conversational banter to come. After insulting Erica’s status and intellect, she dumps him, informing him that throughout life girls will hate him because he’s an asshole.

As if wanting to immediately live up to her expectations, Zuckerberg goes back to his House and proceeds to blog about her secrets, including “real” bra size, and his process of hacking all the campus house websites in order to create his own “Am I Hot or Not” website of the Harvard female population. After his website goes live, it attracts so much traffic that he brings down Harvard’s network, which attracts the attention of the Winklevoss brothers.

The Winklevoss brothers, astonishingly played by a single actor named Armie Hammer (astonishing because they looked slightly different), are looking for a programmer to make their “Harvard Connection” website, which Zuckerberg then goes and builds for himself and his roommate and best friend Eduardo Saverin.

Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker
Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker

Justin Timberlake delivers a surprisingly good performance as Napster founder and entrepreneur Sean Parker. Before The Social Network, all I could really remember seeing him in were Sony commercials and… Jizz in My Pants. I have to say it left me intrigued and willing to see more of him.

The movie flashes back and forth between what you see as the present and the legal proceedings of two different lawsuits with Zuckerberg taking place in the “real” present: one between him and the Winklevoss brothers and the other with Eduardo. And while it’s captivating to watch Jesse Eisenberg’s Zuckerberg intellectually and verbally own legal teams and still fail at the most basic apology, I still can’t believe this won the Golden Globe for Best Picture.

To me this seemed more like the kind of movie that grabs you for a couple hours, but doesn’t really keep you excited after the fact. Sure, it compels you to immediately head to Facebook and check for the movie-mentioned header for founder names and gives you a new perspective on your Wall and maybe convinces you to finally link yourself to your girlfriend, but past that the movie didn’t shake the entertainment ground I walk upon.

Definitely worth renting and watching, but I wouldn’t necessarily buy it. There’s only so much I can enjoy watching a billionaire step all over people that helped get him to where he is.

Spoiler Warning

As the depositions proceed, so does Zuckerberg’s strange stumbling through the formation of the biggest social networking giant today. While he no doubt had the vision and knowledge to get Facebook to where it is, it’s clear that he couldn’t have done so without several key individuals that he did, in fact, heartlessly stomp on in the process.

Make no mistake, I’m well aware of how stinking rich the real Winklevoss brothers and Saverin are because of their settlements. However, no amount of money can ever erase the choices made that reveal your character and the value you place in friendship and partnership. Since the movie makes it a point to drive home the fact that Zuckerberg doesn’t care about money, it makes you wonder what really drove him to do what he did.

Was status that much of a mission for him that he sought to be “better” than everyone else, no matter what the cost?

The last scene of the movie shows him constantly reloading the page after he’s sent a friend request to his old girlfriend Erica. This was an ingenious scene that captured both the addiction of Facebook and the social ineptitude of Zuckerberg without a single spoken word. When I was done, my hubby asked me if it painted Zuckerberg in a good way because he’d read that he was a real dick, but assumed that the movie was pro-Facebook founder.

With an ending like that, I’d say that this certainly didn’t do Mark Zuckerberg any favors. Is there anything more biting than telling the world that the founder of Facebook is essentially just as desperate for acceptance as so many of us can be?

Final Verdict: Great to watch, but didn’t live up to the massive hype.

Buy or Rent The Social Network:

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