Macs have plenty of behind-the-scenes movie experience. But Power Macs, iMacs, and PowerBooks also end up in front of the camera. While the Mac is usually confined to blink-and-you’ll-miss-it bit parts, occasionally the computer lands a central role in which it outshines its human costars. Here are the Mac’s most memorable moments on the silver screen, along with a quick review of whether it gave an Oscar-caliber performance.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
When the Enterprise crew journeys back to the 20th century, Scotty (James Doohan) can’t believe the Mac SE doesn’t have voice-recognition capabilities (“A keyboard . . . how quaint”). But that doesn’t stop him from using it to concoct a formula for manufacturing transparent aluminum.
Mac Rating: 3.5 (While largely inanimate, the Mac still outacts William Shatner.)
Forrest (Tom Hanks) receives a letter with a vaguely familiar apple-shaped corporate logo and learns that his money has been invested “in some kind of fruit company.”
Mac Rating: 2.5 (We hope he sold his shares before last fall, or it’s back to the shrimp boats.)
Sandra Bullock is an on-the-lam computer whiz who uses any Mac she can get her hands on — as do her pursuers. Even better, the movie’s denouement was filmed at Macworld Expo in San Francisco.
Mac Rating: 4.0 (Never before has the error message “TCP/IP link dropped” been used to such dramatic effect.)
The PowerBook 5300 helps Jeff Goldblum with everything from decoding the aliens’ attack code to downloading a virus to the mother ship.
Mac Rating: 3.0 (Who knew that a hostile alien life-form would be more Mac friendly than most software developers?)
Here’s an impossible mission: Explain why the PowerBook 5300c Tom Cruise uses to take down the bad guys displays a command-line interface.
Mac Rating: 2.0 (You would need at least a roomful of multiprocessor G4s just to decode this movie’s plot.)
You’ve Got Mail
Call it character exposition through computers. Meg Ryan, the cute-as-a-button owner of an independent bookstore, uses a PowerBook. And the avaricious chain-store operator played by Tom Hanks? An IBM ThinkPad.
Mac Rating: 4.0 (At last a movie that dares to tell the truth: all Mac users are as cute as buttons.)