I never expected to see a movie all about Facebook, so I certainly never expected to be writing a review of The Social Network.
In 2006, I was living in New York City, sitting on my Facebook page, trying to figure out where the girls were going for drinks, when word started to spread about a possible Facebook movie. I remember we all had a big laugh about it. Yeah right! Either we weren’t familiar enough with the founders of this thing we were addicted to or we just didn’t care, but come on – a movie about Facebook? MySpace…maybe. But Facebook?
So much has changed. In 2006, Facebook had just left the college campuses where it was originally targeted. In 2010, Facebook boasts over 500 million users & co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg, is the youngest billionaire ever. In 2006, MySpace was really the place to be. In 2010, not only does Facebook have the number one social media site in the world, but now it’s got the number one movie in the country. And the movie was really, really good.
I won’t throw out the clichés that we’ve been hearing – “The movie of our generation…”,”the best movie you’ll see all year…”, etc. But I’m definitely in the “You-Gotta-See-It” Camp. You gotta see it because it’s really about the inception of an idea that had everything in the universe working for it and still does. Plus, considering that most of us have aneurisms when Facebook is down for a few minutes, (well, I do) it’s pretty awesome to see how the idea was conceived and then implemented.
In the opening scene, we get a taste of the unlikability of a young, Harvard-attending nerd, Mark Zuckerberg. He’s talking to his girlfriend. Well, not really talking to her…rather at her. She realizes this and after a spitfire conversation – done in the rapid speak we’ve now become accustomed because of this social media thing – Mark’s girlfriend, Erica, tells him it’s over. He tries to apologize, sort of, but Erica doesn’t buy it and leaves. Mark sits stunned for a minute…just a minute. Then, off he runs to his dorm room to make history.
What starts out as a rant against Erica begins to grow legs as various platforms. First, it was FaceSmash, created after hacking all of the Harvard dorm rooms’ databases in order to gain pictures of all female students and putting them up against each other in a contest to see who’s the hottest. Then, briefly, The Harvard Connection was conceived. Eventually, that seed turned in into The Facebook. The biggest draws? Exclusivity (it was only available if you had a Harvard.edu email address) & relationship status (this would be an easy way to find single girls if there was a place for them to say they were single).
While we are getting all of this back story, we are introduced to two separate court cases – one involving co-founder Eduardo Saverin; the other involving twins, Taylor & Cameron Winklevoss, who claim that Facebook was originated from their idea – The Harvard Connection. As we watch these cases unfold, we continue to peek back into 2004 & watch a programming nerd go from hated to “CEO, bitch.”
The acting was superb throughout. Jesse Eisenberg, who was great in Zombieland, is just as great here as CEO Zuckerberg. While most of the movie he’s in flip-flops with socks, Eisenberg plays well the irony of having millions of “friends” on Facebook and none in the real world.
We get some really great turns from Andrew Garfield, playing Saverin & Justin Timberlake pops as Napster founder, Sean Parker. The dynamic between the two pulls Zuckerberg in two directions & ultimately will cost millions. (PS. Something about JT just screams charisma…yeah, I just couldn’t stop staring. And, he really did pop.) Armie Hammer also is a standout and gets a shoutout from me– playing BOTH Winklevoss twins, or as they come to be called, “The Winklevi” (LOL!). I hadn’t heard of him before, but as a radio gal, that dude has an amazing voice! The whole 6’5” stud part helps, too.
One of my favorite parts was watching Zuckerberg, in an alcohol-induced haze, play with old-school lines of html & coding script as he hacks through college databases. Although most of it went over my head, the thought process was just fascinating. I also like that they shouted out both MySpace & Friendster. Without either of those, The Facebook wouldn’t be. It’s also cool to see how The Facebook becomes simply Facebook – one of the most powerful words in the world today.
I can’t say it’s the best film of the year (that would go to Inception) but it’s definitely a close number two. I knew I was gonna like it…I’m a die-hard Facebooker. I didn’t think I’d like it as much as I did. Because we see this story unfold in real time everyday, it’s fun to see how things were added…we get a passing mention about him working on “The Wall.” When we see them celebrate 1 million users, it’s humbling because it’s a far cry from the 500 million being touted today.
(I won’t be surprised if this spurs entrepreneurs into action as this is an extremely inspiring story for them. Who wouldn’t want to come up with the idea for the next social platform?)
The story, based on Ben Mezrich’s nonfiction book, “The Accidental Billionaires,” was quick, witty & full of programming language most of us could care less about. It was also extremely telling. People fighting over an idea. Backstabbing. Booze. Drugs. Litigation.
So is this an accurate portrayal? We’ll never know. None of the Facebook staff was involved in the movie & the only person who cooperated with the book was Saverin who was listed as a “consultant.” Zuckerberg did take his entire office on a field-trip to watch the movie, but so far no word on his impression.
In the end, my favorite thing was seeing that Zuckerberg was still a client of his own creation – logging onto his own Facebook page. It was awfully refreshing to watch the CEO refreshing his own FB page as he waited for a friend confirmation from the girl who started it all.
I can definitely throw this one out there – Be nice to the nerds out there. You never know when one of ‘em will have the next $25 billion idea that will change the way the world communicates forever.