This week I was fortunate enough to score sneak preview passes to Aaron Sorkin’s upcoming Facebook movie The Social Network through some connections at Yahoo!, proving once again that working in the internet industry has perks once every blue moon. Just ten more zeroes on my paycheck and I’m right there on my path to being the lacrosse version of facebook’s head genius, Mark Zuckerberg.
Walking into the movie I was expecting a very West Wing meets Wall Street tone and Sorkin certainly delivers. The Social Network is a tight antihero-makes-it-big drama that should resonate with the 25 and under crowd. The tech revolution is quickly passing even Gen-X behind so consider Mark Z. the Lebron James of the new social world.
Even though Zuckerberg is the boy king of the internet and his story is interesting, I didn’t buy about half of the drama and poignant anecdotes sprinkled throughout the movie.
At it’s heart this is a story about a gifted Harvard coder (albeit a revolutionary one) creating a website. This isn’t naturally thrilling (but cue up some musical tracks from Trent Reznor and you might be fooled!). Ultimately, despite the added framework of a courtroom drama to hold up the corners of the movie and give it some tense moments, the plot is a tough sell for a major motion picture.
Sorkin does his best to sex the whole thing up a little to keep the audience interested and you’ll be glad. Hooking up in bathrooms? Snorting drugs off hot co-ed’s? Smirking Justin Timberlake? Check, check, and double check.
The “smug alert” is at an all time high during the scenes where the facebookers “make it rich” but it’s better than watching a guy type at a computer for two hours. I’m almost certain that Harvard isn’t the mix of Hogwarts and a “Girls Gone Wild” video like it’s portrayed in the film.
At it’s heart “The Social Network” is about two things.
- How did a college student manage to create the most revolutionary way for people to communicate when, by all accounts, he’s completely removed from reality and not too pleasant to be around? (cue Sorkin’s overuse of the ironic “the creator of facebook has no friends”-meme that get’s pummeled into the ground…we get it Aaron. Simmer down.)
- What are the consequences when you come up with an idea that will change the world? And who “owns” that idea?
Sorkin doesn’t hit home runs answering either of these questions but does his best to “(put) the Facebook generation on trial” during his attempt.
By all accounts I was entertained by TSN but walking out of the theater you’ll be hard pressed to find a single likable character in the entire film. And “characters” couldn’t be more accurate when talking about the portrayal of Zuckerberg and his fellow facebookers. This movie’s Mark Zuckerberg is way to brooding and robotic have any depth. One person I was with was convinced that Jesse Eisenberg didn’t smile once the entire two hours.
Add in Justin Timberlake (playing the founder of Napster) banging a Stanford co-ed and smirking while ordering drinks and you’ll have a movie that’s desperately trying to bring “Sexy Back” to HTML. Timberlake does manage to steals the show because he’s the only character programed to feel things other than robot emotions or angst and even manages to act circles around the rest of the cast.
A moment of silence for former Office co-star and current Parks and Rec cast-member, Rashida Jones who is just stuck out in left field the entire film. Her character is out of place and stranded sitting in a lawyer’s conference room.
Jones’ serves as a shortcut for the director to blatantly tell the audience how they should view Zuckerberg. She must not have read the script before taking the role but I won’t hold it against her. We’ll always have Dunder Mifflin, Rashida.
Sorkin couldn’t resist adding a little Hollywood to TSN and the end result has a hard time feeling authentic enough to be taken as a serious introspective of a facebook generation or the kid who dreamed it up.
Interestingly the “I’m a creep” trailer for TSN did a fantastic job of criticizing the social revolution in a thoughtful way. If the film could have captured the tone of the trailer it would have had a chance to be great but the advertising for a movie generally shouldn’t be more powerful than the actual movie itself.
So if you are one of the 500 million facebook stalker / detective / addict’s out there looking for an occasionally on point parable of the social generation and it’s reluctant boy King you should “like” The Social Network.
I mean, you might as well get to know the guy who made billions of dollars off your spring break pictures and favorite music quotes, right?