Against some pretty serious odds, I very much love James Ponsoldt’s The End of the Tour. I didn’t think too much of Jason Segel before. I sort of liked him in the goofy Jeff Who Lives at Home, but he was slightly too neurotic for me in How I Met Your Mother (yes, I know, neurotic behavior was that show’s trademark). Jesse Eisenberg is always watchable, even if he has to play uptight, angsty mid-twens most of the time.
The Social Network could be a great movie if it wasn’t for its trite plot. There is that computer geek at Harvard called Mark Zuckerberg who will never ever get a second date, and so takes his revenge by setting up a ranking system for the female students on the net. Him and some like-minded fellow students can smell the big bucks from where they’re coding, and so they bend over backwards to become very rich very fast. This is a movie about greed. It features that one-dimensional ambition from Wall Street, but makes Gordon Gekko look like a piece of antique furniture. As soon as these guys realize that there is not only big money in working alongside, but against each other, they sue each other for ludicrous amounts. None of these characters is even remotely sympathetic. They were never friends, not on Facebook, and not in real life. They just happened to live in the same dorm at the same time, bumping ideas off each other. Zuckerberg may have a brilliant mind for computer ideas, but his biography is still one from glorified hacker to billionaire (while still being a glorified hacker). It’s not a coincidence that even the screenplay starts and ends with the question if this guy is an a-hole.
Pop quiz: How many lawsuits does the movie show? I think they are all depositions, but it’s hard to tell who’s suing who at any given time. The movie is too slick and self-absorbed to slow down and let us know exactly where we’re at. There is not one shred of criticism about how these idiots behave, which is just as well, because otherwise the movie might self-destruct.
It takes a very good cast and crew to make a bad movie look so good. The screenplay is well-informed and smart and always one step ahead, although I have a suspicion that Aaron Sorkin has no idea about how computers work. Apparently, David Fincher is unable to make a visually boring flick. Almost every main cast member has made at least one movie that is noteworthy: Andrew Garfield has made that fabulous British flick called Boy A, Jesse Eisenberg was in the very funny Zombieland, and John Getz will forever be the remorseful cheater in Blood Simple. What’s more, I’ve yet to hear a better score than that by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. That bit with the Henley boat race is an atmospheric masterpiece, but deserves to be in a better movie. Here’s a thought: It could have been a great movie about rowing, with countless geeks watching a live-stream from their laptops, simultaneously writing in their blogs about how they really wish they could have made it into the rowing team.