A typical “dinner and a movie” date often includes the line, “So…did you like it?” It didn’t shock me when, walking out of the Social Network movie tonight, my husband asked this very thing. The answer was definitely yes (especially in light of our last two movies…Eat, Pray, Love and Money Never Sleeps – both disappointing.)
As an average movie goer, I think a review always breaks down into 2 categories, maybe 3: What was likeable about the movie and how could it have been better? The third category is a deep-dive into acting and direction, which non-theater majors may toss out (that said, average movie goers have no deep educational basis, only opinion.) So, let’s focus on the former: what was likeable and what wasn’t.
To set the stage, I saw the previews for the movie Social Network, but was unprepared for the whole thing to revolve around a lawsuit, or as it were, lawsuits. Yet, this is the angle that tells the story of the 7 year rise of Facebook – and a somewhat intimate (yet distant) portrayal of the real Mark Zuckerberg.
So, what did you like about The Social Network?
The story line was interesting. It dove a tad deeper into what most already know about the Facebook phenomenon, yet brought light to the key players that fed the sensation, those the audience likely knew nothing about. People love to learn, by nature, and this semi-biography was a way to learn what is probably available on line, but much easier to watch…with a lot of pretty faces (mainly the men.)
Second, the sad reality of identifying with the unlikable characters will also likely delight movie-goers. There is that minute-by-minute watching, where the chain-smoker-even-forgets-about-a-cigarette kind of watching, that is waiting for “justice.” (By the way, justice never really surfaces.) Still, just as Scarlett O’Hare wasn’t particularly admirable in Gone With The Wind, there was a likeability of flaws; an identification for the audience. So it went with every character in this movie; they were artistically flawed.
Something about seeing yourself in a problematic character is thought provoking. This was the third biggest strength; it made you think. All of the main characters (the social moron, the gullible doormat friend, the smooth-talker, the “I did everything right…why isn’t it paying off?” twins) all of them translate a very common thread of loneliness, which was never said…but there. (To me, that is ode to acting and directing, but I said we weren’t going to talk about that.) Nevertheless, this is the third point of likability…thought provoking loneliness.
While we are on the subject of “thought provoking,” I loved the ending where Mark becomes a victim of his own invention, glued to Facebook, longing to reach out to a past love – still yearning for approval.
What would you change about The Social Network?
There was no reference to Marks genius, or social position, outside of the obvious. To me, that was a little shallow. No one becomes like Mark without parents, childhood memories, or some sort of churning background. All of that deep explanation which intrigues the hearts of men (and mothers) was lacking. He was just a social outcast and computer genius and that was that. Movies are roughly 180 minutes. In that time, you can’t possibly cover the gambit of one’s life. However, a flashback might have been a nice add.
Second, movie goers are likely a little depressed, as opposed to inspired, after seeing the movie because the “moral of the story” was hiddeous. Sure, there were great conversation starters there but, ultimately, a genius with no social skills or loyalty whatsoever wins. What is the message for the millions who love Facebook and will probably patronize the local theater to see the explaination? What did it offer about the core need of family, personal interaction or loyalty?
The moral: A social leper with a great idea needs no one (or denies that he does) and in a dark room becomes a billionaire, with a faint attraction to the “California life.” Zuckerberg is no hero and there is no “moral of the story” other than…you can screw people – and will probably have to – if you want to get ahead, but in the end everyone is lonely. Ultimately, that is unimpressive on so many levels.
But hey, I checked Facebook tonight. I bought the ticket to support the movie. Ultimately, my actions completely endorse hypocrisy. Gross. This is exactly how I feel about Facebook:”It is the ultimate example of the downfall of our society (technology gone gonzo)…now move over and let me log on!” The movie is the exact same, “The message sucks…you should totally go see it.”