Review | The Social Network

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Opens Friday 10/1

Us rating: ***

The birth of "" at Harvard gets the big-screen treatment in this intelligent drama written by The West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin. In 2003, fast-talking nerd Mark Zuckerberg (a twitchy, dead-on Jesse Eisenberg) gets dumped by his girlfriend (Rooney Mara), blogs spitefully about her, then gets inspired to create a social network that rocks the university -- and spreads virally across U.S. campuses.

Joined by BFF Eduardo Saverin (an excellent Andrew Garfield) and later by Napster founder Sean Parker (a smarmy, charming Justin Timberlake), Zuckerberg achieves web immortality but then gets embroiled in lawsuits brought by classmates who say he stole their idea. Directed by David Fincher (Fight Club, Seven), the movie zips along at a quick pace, with caffeinated dialogue. Still, things get dull in the third act during the inevitable crash, as Zuckerberg's legal and social headaches stack up. Plus, we never learn much about the 26-year-old billionaire (he didn't cooperate with the movie and has called it "fiction") other than he was rejected, it hurt, and his pain spawned the virtual playground of a generation.