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Extras make you a 'Network' insider

What's not to like? Jesse Eisenberg, left, and Joseph Mazzello in "The Social Network."
What's not to like? Jesse Eisenberg, left, and Joseph Mazzello in "The Social Network." (Columbia Tristar Marketing Group)

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 14, 2011

"The Social Network" isn't exactly desperate to develop a cult following on DVD.

The movie has been embraced by audiences, honored as the best film of 2010 by numerous critics' groups and dubbed a shoo-in for multiple Academy Award nominations, including a Best Picture nod. In fact, the film about the genesis of Facebook has generated so many "likes"- of the metaphorical variety, as well as actual ones on Facebook - that some may be growing fatigued of hearing how phenomenal it is.

Well, here's some bad news for those suffering from Jesse Eisenberg overload: The DVD ($28.96) and Blu-ray ($34.95) release this week of "The Social Network" provides yet another opportunity to fawn over its near flawlessness. Thanks to a superb set of extras, including a 90-minute documentary that provides extraordinary behind-the-scenes glimpses of the production process, even people familiar with director David Fincher's study of driven, socially tone-deaf Facebook inventor Mark Zuckerberg (played by Eisenberg) will view this Internet-generation story with fresh eyes.

It's clear after just one screening of "The Social Network" that cast and crew paid extremely close attention to detail; what the special features show us is just how much. In the documentary, titled "How Did They Ever Make a Movie of Facebook?," we eavesdrop on a table read during which Fincher, writer Aaron Sorkin and star Justin Timberlake debate how often the phrase "I'm CEO, [expletive]" should be uttered.

Then, during extensive footage from the set, we see Sorkin pausing between the 99 takes that Fincher shot of the rapid-fire, dialogue-driven opening scene to make sure that actress Rooney Mara uses the word "anybody" on the next go-round instead of "everybody." Later we even get a quick lesson in the digital trickery involved in transposing Armie Hammer's head onto the body of fellow actor Josh Pence so that the Winklevoss twins (the fellow Harvard students who sued Zuckerberg for allegedly stealing their idea for an all-consuming online social network) would actually look like identical twins onscreen. (Eisenberg wryly notes that no one should feel too sorry for the impossibly handsome Pence, even if his face was erased from the movie: "He'll be fine. He can go cry over sex.")

That's only a fraction of what the documentary and other bonus material allow us to access. A pair of commentary tracks and a suite of featurettes - including ones that focus on the movie's visual aesthetic, the score (by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross) and the complexities of creating a now-famous nightclub scene - provide further insight into the filmmaking process.

Technically, there is only one thing missing from this release: a digital copy of the movie that would allow consumers to view it on mobile devices.

For a film focused on digital innovators, this seems like an obvious oversight. Then again, maybe it's appropriate. Unlike its protagonist, "The Social Network" hasn't won fans by breaking technological ground. It has earned accolades the old-fashioned way - by telling a compelling story about real, flawed people in a way that never underestimates its audience's intelligence.


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