The Social Network

 
Fantastic performances, compelling story for teens and up.
  • Review Date: September 29, 2010
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 121 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

On the one hand, seeing all these young entrepreneurs be creative and innovative is a great example for teenagers, but some of the actions that lead to Facebook's success are shady and unfortunate.

Positive role models

They're big thinkers with great ideas, but many of the characters make questionable, borderline unethical decisions. Mark alienates and forces out his best friend, and he's accused of stealing the overall idea of Facebook from three other Harvard students. The character of Sean Parker is egomaniacal, parties a lot, and is the main catalyst for some of the uglier wheeling and dealing that goes on behind the scenes.

Violence

A couple of men nearly come to blows but are stopped by their friends before an actual punch is thrown. In one scene, security comes to escort a character after he violently destroys a laptop.

Sex

Sexuality is one of the main themes (and one of the major motivations for Facebook) of the movie. No graphic is sex depicted, but in one scene two young women take Mark and Eduardo to bathroom stalls, where they kiss passionately before the women take off the guys' belts and perform oral sex (you see one woman squat down before the camera cuts to the guy's ecstatic face). In another scene, a couple wakes up together but neither can remember much about the other -- including their names. The girl walks around in panties and a cutoff top. There's a scene of strip poker, and lots of women come on to the guys, make out with them, and dance around them while scantily clad. In an online pre-Facebook stunt, Mark pits women against each other for others to rank according to "hotness."

Language

Lots of casual use of words like "s--t," "a--hole," "screw," "hell," and "bitch," and even a couple "f--k"s. Also "goddamn" and "oh my God."

Consumerism

Obviously, the movie is a huge promo for Facebook, even if the tale of its origins is at times deeply unflattering toward founder Mark Zuckerberg. Many other brands are also featured, including Gap, Livejournal, Heineken beer, and schools like Harvard, Stanford, Boston University, Columbia, and Yale.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

College students drink like fish. Mark and his sophomore roommates get drunk and stoned in their dorm rooms and at frat parties, dinners, and nightclubs. There's lots of beer, cocktails, and champagne drinking, as well as pot smoking and even lines of some drug (probaby cocaine) about to be consumed.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie about the creation of Facebook will appeal to media-savvy tweens and young teens, but there's so much sexuality, drug use, drinking, and swearing (lots of "a--hole," "bitch," and "s--t") that it's a better fit for older high schoolers. The sexual content includes scenes of strip poker, a scene set the morning after a one-night stand, bathroom-stall trysts (with implied oral sex), girls dancing nearly naked, and more. College students party a lot, so it's no surprise that there's plenty of drinking -- often to excess -- and drug use (mostly marijuana, but also cocaine). While teens will learn the value of being innovative, there are some very negative messages and role models in the movie. Ultimately, The Social Network isn't the typical "genius entrepreneur" biopic, because it's really a story about the personal price of success.

What's the story?

In his sophomore year at Harvard, computer-science genius Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and his best friend, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), create a site ranking their female classmates' hotness. It gets the attention of rich, entrepreneurial seniors Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss (both played by Armie Hammer) and their business partner, who hire Zuckerberg to create a social networking site for Harvard students. But instead of working on the Harvard-only site, Zuckerberg asks Saverin to front him the start-up costs to launch what they call "thefacebook," which starts at Harvard but eventually spreads to other elite universities across the country. After the site hits Stanford, Zuckerberg and Saverin meet Napster co-founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), who ingratiates himself into the founders' circle, usurps Saverin, and helps Zuckerberg get the funds to transform "thefacebook" into Facebook. In the process, Zuckerberg faces lawsuits from his Harvard rivals and his former best friend.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

There was a lot of pre-release hype for THE SOCIAL NETWORK -- and for once, the buzz is well-deserved. This is truly an enthralling film; all of the pieces -- writing, plot, direction, acting, soundtrack -- create a memorable, timely movie that couldn't be more relevant to the current zeitgeist. If a story about a business' Ivy League founders or Harvard social intrigue or young billionaires in the making doesn't sound compelling, this movie will surprise you. And the credit must go to director David Fincher and writer Aaron Sorkin, who've taken what sounds like a very boring premise -- boy genius possibly steals an idea to create one of the dominating media forces of the decade -- and turned it into an award-worthy film that even Facebook objectors will enjoy.

Eisenberg plays Zuckerberg as a socially awkward computer genius who isn't an adorable geek (like many of Eisenberg's previous roles). He's a huge jerk -- or, as his date tells him in the first scene, a first-class "a--hole" -- obsessed with status and, later, getting back at said date for rejecting him. How many multibillion dollar ideas started out as a way to show up someone who rejected the innovator? And how many business are built on the backs of broken friendships? As Saverin, British import Garfield is pitch perfect. He exudes the confidence that comes with wealthy, but unlike Zuckerberg or the Winklevoss twins, he's not condescending. In many ways, he's the heart of the movie, because his character is so much more likable than Zuckerberg -- so much so that you want him to win his lawsuit against Facebook. The movie's biggest scene-stealers are Timberlake -- who's all slimy and paranoid charm as Parker -- and the Winklevoss brothers, who are played by Hammer so well that you'd swear it was twin actors. Each twin is patrician perfection personified, and the fact that their social networking idea is the seed that Zuckerberg turns into Facebook serves as a slap in the face to their entitlement. What's true and what isn't doesn't quite matter for the purposes of this film; in the end Facebook's "status" is bigger than all its players. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Facebook and social networking. How have people's -- especially teens' -- lives changed as a result of Facebook's creation?

  • How accurate do you think the movie is? Why might filmmakers bend the facts when making a movie based on real life? How could you find out more if you wanted to?

  • What was the cost of Facebook's success for its founders? What is the movie's message about starting a huge enterprise? What does it take? What does it cost to succeed?

  • Does the founder of Facebook seem like a likable guy? Does this drama make you think less or more of him? Which of his many questionable choices makes him look the most unethical?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 1, 2010
DVD release date:January 11, 2011
Cast:Andrew Garfield, Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake
Director:David Fincher
Studio:Columbia Pictures
Genre:Drama
Run time:121 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:sexual content, drug and alcohol use and language

This review of The Social Network was written by

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Written byAnonymous January 12, 2013
age 18+
 

A Hard PG-13 and a Good Movie for it to be an R.

Yes this movie is about Facebook. An Advisement inside a Movie. Yet sex is in it too. So this movie is not for kids.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written bySpielberg00 June 6, 2011
age 13+
 

Fantastic, but very mature.

My rating: PG-13 for use of alcohol and illegal drugs involving teens, strong language and some sexual content.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent of a 14, 15, and 20 year old Written byrwyoung@pol.net October 14, 2010
age 17+
 
Don't send your children to this if you don't want to send the message that it is ok to do drugs, have premarital sex or speak with a foul mouth!!!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written byMovieMan26 October 12, 2010
age 14+
 

Impressive drama along the lines of Catch Me if You Can

This was an excellent film that's really worth seeing. The performances were outstanding! The story was compelling and original, and the pace was quick, but not too quick. Parents: This is a strong PG-13. There's surprisingly graphic sex, drug use, and language. What I would have rated it: R for Drug Use, some Sexuality, and Strong Language. Bottom Line: A great film that should be seen by all. Thanks for reading! - Movie Man
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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