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Movie Review: The Social Network (PG-13)

RSVP “Yes” to “The Social Network

By Kristen Page-Kirby

“The Social Network,” about the founding of Facebook, is probably more fun and more interesting than anything that shows up on your newsfeed.

Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) is a socially awkward genius at Harvard. He has a knack for both programming and for knowing what people want, even though he can barely carry on a normal conversation. When a site he invents crashes the Harvard servers in a matter of hours, he’s approached by three students with an idea: A social networking site for Harvard students. Zuckerberg is either inspired by the idea, or completely rips it off (depending on your interpretation) and ends up inventing (or just taking the credit for) the home of Frontierville.

Written by Aaron Sorkin (“The West Wing”) at his rapid-fire best, the movie is one of the rare films that rests comfortably in ambiguity. We don’t ever really find out what makes Zuckerberg tick—he seems to be a robot at times, only focused on what Facebook can do and how it can grow. Multiple characters talk about how money doesn’t matter to him, fame doesn’t matter to him, people don’t matter to him—and it’s easy to believe them. But Eisenberg’s skillful performance give hints that Zuckerberg does, in fact, know that his actions, while not deliberately hurtful, certainly are leaving piles of wounded former friends behind him. Other excellent performances are Andrew Garfield as co-founder Eduardo Sevarin  (who’s also excellent in the indie “Never Let Me Go,” currently out, and is slated to be the next Spider-Man. And he was in “Doctor Who,” which automatically makes him awesome.) and Josh Pence, who plays identical twins thanks to a bit of “Parent Trap” magic. Justin Timberlake is also excellent as the frenetic founder of Napster.

“The Social Network” pushes the boundaries of its PG-13 rating. There’s plenty of drinking and drug use as well as some parties where girls strip down to their skivvies and engage in same-sex kissing. There’s some cursing, but in the world of PG-13, only one f-bomb is dropped (though there’s a hilariously bad moment of dubbing when a character says “frick,” though it doesn’t take a lip-reader to see that’s not what was actually said. There’s a scene in a bathroom where oral sex is strongly implied.

“The Social Network” is fun, thought-provoking and smart. Facebook has, in seven years, revolutionized online interaction, but no revolution comes without casualties. Zuckerberg may see himself as others see him—as the heartless commander of the new world order. But the haunting last scene of the film makes Zuckerberg so painfully human that the image stayed with me for days. I’d better update my status to say that.

Kristen Page-Kirby last reviewed “Vampires Suck.”

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