19

Following the egregious use question, other than Antitrust (to some extent), and The Matrix episode where Trinity uses nmap in a legit fashion, what movie/tv/book references use computers correctly?

Clarification - I don't merely mean someone sending mail like in You've Got Mail - I'm thinking a geeky film/show/book that should use it right, and does.

60

One of the most realistic computer scenes I've witnessed is from the Family Guy's "Blue Harvest" Star Wars spoof:

  • Princess Leia: [recording her message on R2-D2] Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. you're my only hope. All right, now what do I click?

  • R2-D2: Click "Preferences". [she does so]

  • Princess Leia: Okay, I clicked "Preferences".

  • R2-D2: Now go to "Default Media Browser". [she does]

  • Princess Leia: Okay. There's a little hourglass and it's-it's not letting me do anything. It-it says "Buffering", what is that?

  • R2-D2: Just give it a minute.

  • Princess Leia: All I'm trying to do is make an MPEG.

  • R2-D2: All I'm trying to do is tell you to wait a minute.

  • Princess Leia: Okay, relax.

  • R2-D2: Now click, "Import Video File".

  • Princess Leia: All right. [she does] It's telling me I have to download RealPlayer 7.

  • R2-D2: You know what? I'll just bring it to him myself.

24

I'd have to say "Office Space", particulary the part where they beat the @#$%@#$% out of the printer.

21 accepted

Sneakers is usually the movie I think of.

20

I realize it's TV, but ...

In Heroes (season 1) Ando shows up at Ali Larter/Nicki/Jessica's house. When questioned by the cops he's like "I got your address from a WhoIs. You should consider private listing."

That made me laugh.

14

Obviously, the use of NMAP and a real, existing remote exploit in Matrix in a real existing bash was a highlight.

12

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson uses legit Perl and technology references. Certainly some of the premise of the story is over the top, but it's based in reality.

10

I vote for 2001, A Space Odyssey

Hands down the most detailed, fully fleshed-out vision of a future computer system. Not only is HAL a key character in the story, but all the interfaces and the physical implementation are credible. Keep in mind that the movie was made in the late 1960's, when most depictions of computers (even future computers) featured spinning tape drives and rows of blinkenlights

9

I thought Brazil had a pretty correct depiction of computers. In that they're often hard to use, frustrating, and confusing.

Brazil screenshot

7

The German film 23 deals with a hacker group in Germany during the 1980s. The film is based on a is based on the true story. Hacking activities in the movie were represented by writing trojan horses, grabbing passwords, breaking into mailboxes - not "realtime hacking" as it is depicted in other movies.

23 is one of the best films about hackers and also one of the best German films that I have ever seen (I have to admit, the internet in the 80s was not as widespread as today, however, the film stays quite accurate).

6

In "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home", Scotty first attempts to talk to the computer and when that doesn't work, tries talking into the mouse, reverting to the keyboard in the end. In this scene, what's more correct is not the computer itself but the post-twentieth-century user's expectations from the computer.


Update

See: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/175074/whats-the-most-egregious-pop-culture-perversion-of-programming#175397

6

I guess that should be awarded to the movie where the protagonist zooms in the digital only to find out that everything is pixelated and he can do NOTHING about it.

Is there a move like this? I have yet to see one.

5

Wargames had quite a bit of realism for the era - except for the fact that a NORAD wargame simulator wouldn't be hooked up to a modem and set to auto-answer (and the fact that I suspect NORAD isn't as exciting as it is in the movie), it's a pretty fun insight into things that actual people did.

5

If I remember right, the movie Firewall with Harrison Ford was actually fairly accurate in terms of networking.

Another one that comes to mind is Untraceable, again dealing with networking and the internet.

4

Blade Runner. The computers stay in the background, they are referenced throughout the movie without the actual portrayal of goofed up tech.

3

Here's a weird one: The Holiday. In every way a chick flick in which two "..women troubled with guy-problems swap homes in each other's countries, where they each meet a local guy and fall in love." -IMDb. They find the person to swap homes with using the web, without errors, magic techo-babble (ala CSI), or ghosts coming out of their monitors.

If by correctly you mean "awsomely", then Jurassic Park hands down.

"This is a UNIX system... I know this!" "THE DOORS!"

3

Die Hard 4 had a good portrayal of computers advantages and disadvantages

2

In Little Brother (Cory Doctorow), there's quite a few real uses of computer technology. A couple things have been embellished to move the story along (free xbox), but most of the technology references in the book are quite accurate.

2

Wasn't AOL well represented in Tom Hank's "You've Got Mail"?'

(though that probably shouldn't count) ;)

2

In the movie No Way Out with Kevin Costner, the Navy has a computer that does some realistic stuff (crunch data for hours on end) and the server room is pretty accurate, although it is run by the stereotypical fat guy.

The Navy uses its computer to reconstruct an image from a Polaroid transfer. I don't know if that technology is particularly accurate, but it was suspenseful.

2

Jurassic Park loses points because the supposed live video feed from the docks has a clearly visible progress bar at the bottom of the quicktime window. Its hilarious.

1

[joke]Hackers[/joke]

To provide some actual discussion here, it kinda depends on how much computer usage and what kind of genre's you want to consider. Since the 70's an increasing amount of movies/literature have been using computers in a background fashion. Countless movies have people walking up to a computer, doing something legit, like browsing the web, or checking email and then quitting.

I might also throw Star Trek, out there. While being a futuristic Sci Fi, they used a thin client/main frame computing model to provide computer access everywhere on the ship. It did have it's technologies that didn't exist, but they weren't ridiculous or dumb as is seen in many other sci-fi media of the day.

1

I kinda liked the 'code' in the Jurassic Park novel.

1

I always thought The Negotiator had a pretty decent portrayal of computer use compared to most movies.

1

In The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson mentions a real text-editor for Mac

The family was so extensive that he was forced to create a database in his iBook. He used the NotePad programme (www.ibrium.se)

0

In Star Trek.

No ... sorry ... Star Wars!
0

Quite surprisingly the movie Sydney White (don't watch it, it's horrible!) depicts hacking into someones computer quite accurately. At least if you accept that even Macs can be hacked.

You can see the hack on YouTube.

0

Way back in the first episode of the Incredible Hulk TV show there was a character carrying several reams of output after asking the computer "a simple question". It was accurate for the late 1970's, anyway.