Movie Review: The Social Network [Updated]

You may have heard of a small movie about a big social media company called Facebook, that opened this week. I had the chance to check it out recently, and, after letting it sink in for a few hours – I decided I’d share my thoughts about this movie. First off, The Social Network is a movie that chronicles the first year of Facebook, the online social media website. It centers around the founders of the site and, of course, the drama surrounding all of it. My basic feeling about this movie is that it was (a) well done and (b) fast and loose with the facts. Update: Take a look at this post: The 10 Most Glaring Lies In “The Social Network”.

First thing, I wanted to talk about how well done is. It’s no stretch to think that the director, David Fincher, would make a movie that is polished and technically accurate. I appreciate that too, because some of the dialog needed to be highlighted (the opening scene was allot of fast-talking) and others needed to be handled well (the scene in the loud club). The computer-related stuff was nice too. I tend to see allot of the glaring errors movies make wen they have computers front and center. It’s always seemed that movie makers aren’t interested in knowing the difference between PHP and P2P, and it shows when characters say things that don’t make sense. It takes me out of the movie. In The Social Network, PHP is PHP here, and it’s on display. The fast cutting made it hard to see, but there was a good chance that it was, in fact, a Perl script Mark was working on when he mentions it. Much of the development of FaceMash sounded technically sound and plausible. The truth? that’s another thing entirely.

First thing I should mention, I have never met any of the main characters in this movie. Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, and Sean Parker are all people I admire in their own way, but I have no personal knowledge if what they’re like. Sure, I have spoken to people that have met them – but, that doesn’t really count. What is nice about the Internet though, is that these folks are all out there and, with some effort you can get a bit of a feel for what these guys are like. Let’s take Sean Parker – he comes across in the movie as a slightly feminine, slimy, douchebag that seems to have brought destruction into Zuckerberg’s life. This is a great characterization by Justin Timberlake, but the real Sean Parker is much, much more interesting. You can read a bit more about him in a Vanity Fair article that shows a certain brilliance to Sean’s real-life persona.

It’s this liberal bending of the truth that is to be expected in a movie. Let’s face it, it’s gotta be interesting to sell ticket right? The funny thing is, as we learn more about Zuckerberg and his early years with Facebook – the truth is turning out to be much more interesting that the movie. The Social Network is almost dated even before it’s released. So, if you are looking for an interesting movie and are curious about a loosely-factual recounting of the beginnings of Facebook, you should go check this out. Don’t expect to see a documentary.

A side note: I thought the movie did a great job of depicting how an idea comes together and turns into something real. It’s possible I’m still just on a “movie high”, but I thought that side of of the picture was well-done.