This weekend my wife and I went to the theatres to see The Social Network. This is huge for me because we haven't seen a movie in ten months. Obviously, being a computer geek who dabbles in the social media, this was a must see for me. As my title suggests, I went a way with some implications that I feel should be discussed, but I absolutely loved the movie. I loved The Social Network for the following 6 reasons.
It was written by Aaron Sorkin
Aaron Sorkin is unequivocally the greatest (screen)playwright of our time. He can do anything: plays (A Few Good Men), TV shows (The West Wing), movies (Charlie Wilson's War). With everything he does there is one key element that distinguishes him from everyone else out there. It is his banter. It is quite literally a symphony of words with a cadence of passion. It was, he says, the rat-a-tat-tat of dialog that drew him to writing in the first place. The Social Network does not disappoint. The opening scene let's us know straight out of the gate that this is an Aaron Sorkin movie, so buckle up!
It was based on something that was based on a true story
You should bare in mind that this is NOT an autobiography. Mark Zuckerburg does not get a chance to cast himself in a positive light. He doesn't get to so much as speak up for himself. In fact, no facebook employees were consulted during the writing or production of this movie. On the other hand, this isn't the playwright's opinion of him (or version of the facts) either. Like in CWW, Sorkin took a book and adapted it for a movie. In this case, the book was The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich. A cheif consultant for this book was Eduardo Saverin (co-founder of facebook). In other words, the source is close enough for the information to be factual, yet the mouth piece is removed enough for the presentation to be honest.
I dislike Sean Parker as much as I dislike Justin Timberlake
This is my way of saying that I think the acting was good, and the casting was supreme. This is also my way of saying that I really dislike Justin Timberlake. When I read that he was going to be in the movie I seriously considered not seeing it. I didn't realize he would be playing Sean Parker, though. It was perfect! A complete dill weed playing a complete dill weed. My disdain transfered like osmosis, no suspension of disbelief required.
It is current
Usually the real event stories aren't made until they've become a part of history. The beauty is facebook has already gone down in history. It is rare that you get to watch a movie and think, "I remember that." Even when you do, the thing you remember is in the past. Facebook is still very much here and now. My guess is most of you came here from facebook. There are added difficulties in making movies about recent times. The trouble, of course, is the insurmountable task of avoiding anachronisms. There are so many details to miss when propping and editing a movie like this. Who knows if GAP had come out with that style of sweatshirt? or if Kirkland doors had a card-swipe? Well... the audience; that's who! It gets all the more difficult when your audience is full of computer nerds thinking, "Service Pack 3 wasn't out yet." Despite a few unimportant timeline problems, it was very fun to watch recent history on the big screen and feel like you're a part of it.
It's basically a story about Silicone Valley
Yes, this is a story about facebook. But, facebook's story is not that much different from any other Silicone Valley success. Remember the first time you saw a Behind the Music and thought, "Wow, I had no idea." That is the experience most people will have when they watch this movie. Remember the twentieth time you saw a Behind the Music and thought, "This is basically what happened to everyone." That is the experience precious few of us will have. Don't be alarmed that the idea of facebook was stolen. The ideas for the mouse, windows and iPod were stolen too. Heck, the idea for the light bulb was stolen. Alexander Graham Bell didn't invent the idea for the telephone. He invented the working telephone. Ideas in Silicone Valley are like gold, and that's why people sue for them all the time. But greatness is found in making the ideas work... and that's why people can afford to be sued.
It humanizes Mark Zuckerburg
I've been told that no one can be bigger than the game. I don't follow sports, but I can grasp the concept. Despite what you may think, this was not a movie about Mark Zuckerburg. This was a movie about his game, his company. This was a movie about facebook. Mark may very well be a great guy; I imagine he is. Mark may be the polar opposite of his portrayal in the movie; I imagine he's not. But the main character (and this all goes back to Sorkin) was not Mark Zuckerburg; it was facebook. I imagine that Mark wouldn't have wanted it any other way. So, if the movie is about facebook what do you do with Mark? You write your own story for him. When you are a 26 year old and worth $7 billion it's going to be hard to be seem as... identifiable. When I was 26 I was worth -$97,000. You're simply not going to be seen as the guy in my Chem 6A class. You've got to be at least as big as the game, right? And for most of the movie we see him that way. He seems arrogant, vengeful and incendiary. Yet there are moments when he is undeniably human. The portrayal may seem unfair, but to me it was the only way to make him seem real. Because in the end we see that behind the success, Mark is still a guy with a friend request... just like you and me.