Back-To-School Month "The Social Network" Review

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures

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Back-To-School Month "The Social Network" Review

Rating: PG-13 (sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and crude language)
Length: 120 minutes
Release Date: Oct. 1, 2010
Directed by: David Fincher
Genre: Biography/Drama

While almost everyone knows what Facebook is and uses it on a regular basis, most people would find a film about the website's origin boring. However, "The Social Network" is more than just technological gibberish; it highlights a struggle between some of the main characters, which resulted in lawsuits being taken out. "The Social Network" plays into this masterfully by not focusing on the creation of Facebook but rather the back stabbings that took place, and the ultimate legal troubles that ensued.

The film is based on a 2009 book, "The Accidental Billionaires," by Ben Mezrich. Academy Award winning director David Fincher ("The Curious Case of Benjamin Button") was hired to help direct the film while Aaron Sorkin was in charge of writing the screenplay. Sorkin received a copy of a book proposal from Mezrich and was so intrigued he couldn't wait to begin developing a screenplay for the film. Occasionally, Sorkin and Mezrich would get together and compare notes; however, Sorkin had mostly finished his screenplay by the time the book was finished, so he did not totally follow the book's script.

Casting for the film began in earnest in the summer of 2009, with Jesse Eisenberg hired to play the role of Mark Zuckerberg and Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake cast to fill the roles of Eduardo Saverin and Sean Parker respectively. Filming began only a few months later, mostly in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Harvard did not allow scenes to be filmed on campus, so Phillips Academy, Milton Academy, and Wheelock College were used as alternative locations.

The film opens with Zuckerberg posting some insulting remarks on his blog about his ex-girlfriend Erica. This leads to Zuckerberg creating Facemash, a website that allows Harvard students to rate the beauty of female students at the university. Although the site proves to be successful, Zuckerberg is reprimanded after Harvard's network crashes. One positive thing to come out of this venture is that Zuckerberg meets the Winklevoss twins. The pair invites Zuckerberg to be a programmer for a new dating site concept, Harvard Connection.

While working as a programmer for the Winklevoss twins, Zuckerberg has an idea for a new social networking site for Harvard students. With the help of his friend Eduardo, Zuckerberg creates a site known as Thefacebook. The Winklevoss twins are outraged that Zuckerberg would seemingly steal their idea and take it as his own; however, the pair is split, with Tyler wanting to sue Zuckerberg but Cameron wanting to come to a gentlemen's agreement.

Popularity of Thefacebook grows and Zuckerberg decides to expand the site to other Ivy League schools. Eduardo and Zuckerberg meet with Napster co-founder Sean Parker to discuss further expansion opportunities; Sean recommends that the word the be dropped from the name and the site be simply known as Facebook.

After hearing about the expansion plans that Zuckerberg has for Facebook, the Winklevoss twins decide to sue. At the same time, there is infighting between Zuckerberg, Eduardo, and Sean, with each one accusing the other of not pulling his weight. The chemistry between Eisenberg, Garfield, and Timberlake is terrific and shows just the kind of stress that all three were under during the early days of Facebook.

Tensions get even worse when Eduardo's portion of the company is inadvertently downsized. In response, Eduardo takes Zuckerberg to court. Scenes from two deposition hearings are shown; one where the Winklevoss twins are suing Facebook and the other where Eduardo is also doing the same. In the end, an agreement is reached to pay the Winklevoss twins $65 million while Eduardo is renamed a co-founder of Facebook.

On release of the film, Zuckerberg was critical of the fact that most of the film's plot was simply untrue, and he was not consulted on any of it. At the same time, Eduardo Saverin was also highly critical of the film, describing it purely as entertainment and only very loosely based on fact. Despite these remarks, the film opened to number one at the US box office and held onto the top spot for a second week. The film was largely deemed a global success, making back almost six times its production budget of $40 million.

"The Social Network" was highly praised by film critics and received a plethora of accolades the following movie awards season. The film won Best Motion Picture for Drama at the Golden Globe Awards. In total, the film picked up four globes, making it the most successful of the night. Although "The Social Network" received eight Academy Award nominations, it ended up with wins in only three categories (Adapted Screenplay, Original Score, and Film Editing). This film is a great watch for those who are still unaware about the origins of Facebook.

Rating: 4 out of 5