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July 8, 2009

Facebook: The Movie


Every so often Hollywood comes up with an idea that sounds too harebrained, too ridiculous, too microscopically focused to be of any possible popular good.

If you haven't already heard, they're making a movie about, of all things, Facebook!

So it may surprise you to know that I don't think that the movie, long dubbed simply The Facebook Movie but now saddled with the title The Social Network, bears any relation to the aforementioned derogatory monikers. In fact, I am very excited to see it.

You might think it is because David Fincher is rumored to be directing, in what can only be described as a desire to do something a bit more conventional after the sprawling work that was The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. But actually, while I do follow the auteur theory more than I probably should and rank directors as my primary motivation for seeing a film, I am excited for The Social Network because of its scribe, Aaron Sorkin.

Best known for creating and writing the phenomenal The West Wing, Sorkin, a sort of less abrasive but no less blisteringly intelligent and insightful David Mamet, is also responsible for the films A Few Good Men, The American President and Charlie Wilson's War and the television series' Sports Night and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

Anyone who knows Sorkin knows he is an incomparable wordsmith and pop political philosopher. But he is more than that. Over his career, Sorkin has shown an affinity for and a strong desire to tell stories of creation - the genesis of ideas that transformed the world and the effect that had on their creators.

In his failed (but certainly not a failure) show Sports Center, Sorkin has a character tell the story of Philo Farnsworth, the creator of the television. He later took this episodic throughline and weaved it into a terrific Broadway production titled, "The Farnsworth Invention." There Sorkin used the invention of the TV as a greater metaphor for ambition, scientific expansion, corporate greed and the tenacity of the everyman.

You may not think the creation of Facebook is as momentous as the creation of television and you might…might…be right. Certainly Facebook, in isolation, is not all that important, but if Facebook stands in for the Internet - the free and instantaneous exchange of knowledge and ideas, and the ability to connect all corners of the globe - then perhaps the filmmakers are on to something. And no one is better suited to tell a story like that than Sorkin.

Recently, ScriptShadow got their hands on the script, an adaptation of the book "Accidental Billionaires," about the founding of the website and the egos that powered it - two Harvard friends who unknowingly unleash a phenomenon that quickly breaks its bonds and runs amok.

ScriptShadow described the film as "a story about greed, about obsession, about our belief that all the money in the world can make us happy. But it's also unpredictable, funny, touching, and sad" with "a lot more humor than I expected - to the point where I wondered if it should be classified as a comedy."

Sounds like classic Sorkin to me. I can't wait to Twitter about it.


I always thought FB was lame this proves it.

Aaron Sorkin is a terrific writer. He runs into trouble, I think, when his hostility toward religion or conservatism bumps his story or characters.

While he was writing SPORTS NIGHT and THE WEST WING, Sorkin handled issues of faith and conservatism with a moderate balance of criticism and grace. For whatever reason, STUDIO 60 failed to capture the same balance, and the show suffered as a result.

Sorkin can spin a tale around almost anything, and writing a story that removes him from faith and politics ought to ground him into using his strengths. So I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

This reminds me of a collegehumour.com video called "Twitter in real life" - you can find it on youtube. Very funny. A warning, though: "Twitter in real life" is PG-13, and collegehumour does some funny stuff (see: "Minesweeper: The Movie") but a lot of it is squarely in NC-17 territory.