"The Social Network"

When I joined Facebook in March 2005, before the end of my senior year of high school, I didn't really know what it was. I had received an email invite from a friend, and when I logged on it turned out there were about five people (out of 500 or so) from my graduating class who had also registered for it. The profiles looked a little something like this and the concept was simple - upload a profile picture and some information about yourself, including your school, relationship status, and interests. Over the last five years, Facebook has evolved in many ways, and now it's not just about sharing information - there is a Marketplace where you can list your apartment to sublet, a Games section, and tons of ads and other things to keep one occupied. The profiles have evolved from something slightly more complicated than the original to something that now has multiple tabs for your Wall (where friends can leave you messages), photo albums, and other information. I knew the site had been started by then-Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg in 2004, shortly before I joined "The Facebook," as it was then known, but I had no idea of the amount of controversy surrounding both the idea of Facebook and how it was started. The movie "The Social Network" illuminates this, and does it within a movie that is not only slick, but interesting too.

Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg, "Solitary Man") finds himself bored in his Harvard dorm room one night, and he decides to make a website called Facemash.com, which compares two girls from Harvard and asks viewers to rank whom is hotter. To do this, he hacks into the mainframes of all the Harvard houses and their respective "facebooks". His site gets 22,000 hits within four hours or so, and he soon finds himself in front of a Harvard disciplinary board for hacking. Meanwhile, Divya (Max Minghella, "Agora") and the Winklevoss twins, Tyler and Cameron (newcomer Josh Pence and Armie Hammer, TV's "Reaper", respectively) hear about Zuckerberg's exploits and decide to approach him with an idea: they want to make a website called The Harvard Connection and have it be a "facebook" of sorts. It's a little like a dating site but only Harvard students can join. Zuckerberg agrees to work on the site for them, and then proceeds to give them the brush-off for the next two months or so; within these two months, he gets the idea of The Facebook from their Harvard Connection idea, and proceeds in enlisting his friends to work on it. The Facebook soon goes live and the twins and Divya are furious, as they believe Zuckerberg stole their idea, even though the code used for the website was written by him. As The Facebook becomes more and more popular, expanding to schools beyond Harvard and even at a few European schools, they finally decide to sue him.

The movie was fascinating to me because I had no idea there was so much controversy surrounding Facebook's beginnings. Jesse Eisenberg does a fabulous job as Mark Zuckerberg - I could seriously see him getting an Oscar nom for this role - and his supporting players do a great job as well. Andrew Garfield ("Never Let Me Go") plays Eduardo, Zuckerberg's only (and best) friend, who starts off as the CFO of Facebook, and when the company starts to go in a new direction, including moving to California, he basically gets axed. Justin Timberlake ("The Open Road") is Sean Parker, the young founder of Napster who agrees to work with Zuckerberg on Facebook, who likes to party a lot with girls that may or may not be underage. Brenda Song (TV's "The Suite Life on Deck") has a small but memorable role as Eduardo's crazy girlfriend, and Joseph Mazzello (TV's "The Pacific") plays Dustin, who has a small part in getting Facebook off the ground. Like I said, however, Eisenberg definitely steals the show, and it makes me wonder if Mark Zuckerberg really is like that in real life (very sarcastic and also a bit of a genius); he definitely bears a resemblance to Eisenberg from the photos I have seen of him.

Yes, definitely see this movie. It is extremely slick and also very compelling. Even if you are not a member of Facebook, you will still be able to appreciate this film; it slides back and forth between the present, in which Zuckerberg is involved in two lawsuits against him, and the past, where it shows how Facebook got off the ground and how it matured as a company. According to Wikipedia, Facebook now has over 500 million active users, and the movie shows the time period in which they were anxiously counting down the days until 1 million members had joined. I am sure that the movie definitely "Hollywood"-ized things a bit, including the personalities of Zuckerberg and his coworkers, but I found it to be a great film and one that anyone can enjoy.

"The Social Network" will be in theaters on October 1st.

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