THE SOCIAL NETWORK
**1/2 (out of 5)
October 1, 2010
Jesse Eisenberg as MARK ZUCKERBERG
Justin Timberlake as SEAN PARKER
Andrew Garfield as EDUARDO SAVERIN
Brenda Song as CHRISTY LEE
Rooney Mara as ERICA ALBRIGHT
Joseph Mazzello as DUSTIN MOSKOVITZ
Armie Hammer as CAMERON/TYLER WINKLEVOSS
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Directed by: David Fincher
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
A while back, and probably before I took the cyber-plunge and opened a Facebook account in March of 2009, I heard they were making “a Facebook movie.” And my first thought was, “Who the hell wants to see a Facebook movie?” Then a few months ago, the first trailer was released, and the blogosphere went gaga over it. I watched it and thought, “Who the hell wants to see this Facebook movie?”
I think “it looks about as interesting as a fart in an elevator” was how I described it to a friend.
Then I saw “The Social Network” in a theater filled with college students and critics. Everyone in that theater was glued to the screen, hanging on every word from Aaron Sorkin’s script. And when all was said and done, I couldn’t help but think, “Who the hell wants to see this Facebook movie?”
Well, apparently everyone does. At least everyone but me.
Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t think the movie was terrible. Like all of David Fincher’s work, it’s impeccably shot and composed. The acting is actually pretty good. Sure, Jesse Eisenberg has always rubbed me the wrong way, and in this film he comes off as a smug asshole version of Michael Cera. I know that’s the point, but along with the rest of the cast, I didn’t like anyone.
Unlikable characters can be good, like in most of Tarantino films and smarmy flicks like “Boogie Nights,” but there needs to be something appealing about them. The characters in “The Social Network” don’t have that. Like a zombie in the apocalypse, these characters – and the movie itself – are missing a soul.
Instead, the film is a self-important narcissistic glorification of its own significance. I guess that’s sort of the point, since social networking is by its very nature a narcissistic endeavor. But a self-aware meta film does not a great movie make.
Aside from thoroughly unlikable characters, “The Social Network” suffers from playing fast and loose with the facts. You can’t believe what happens in this movie any more than you can believe that the Roman Emperor Commodus was killed in the Colosseum by Maximus Decimus Meridius.
I understand the need for dramatic license, but the folly here goes beyond that. This story presents Facebook as college students taking over the Internet. But the reality is that Facebook didn’t really blow up (or become truly profitable beyond a speculative nature) until after it was opened up to anyone who has an email address. Zuckerberg, who had his hand in plenty of failed or mediocre social networking ventures, benefited more from being in the right place at the right time. There’s nothing that Facebook offers that MySpace didn’t. Facebook was just cleaner and easier to use for the average person. It’s hardly a feat of brilliant programming.
Still, the movie sells Facebook as this revolutionary thing that allows anyone to build a page, tell their relationship status and post photos for their friends to see… not exactly revolutionary for 2003. Add to the fact that the movie overdoes the geek chic look to the point that Zuckerberg and company look like they’ve stopped by on their way from a Michael Bay movie to a beer commercial.
For years, Hollywood has tried to make hackers and computer programmers look sexy, and it is similarly overdone here. I doubt Facebook groupies look like Brenda Song, and Sean Parker is no Justin Timberlake (even if he thinks he is)
The bottom line is that I didn’t hate “The Social Network,” and it is better than a fart in an elevator. But like certain other films that are widely acclaimed (e.g., “There Will Be Blood,” “Crash” and “The Hurt Locker”), I just didn’t think they were anything to write home about.
And if you think I’m full of it, be sure to friend me at Facebook.com/FatGuysattheMovies and tell me about it.