With the level of technology widely available today, it would be nearly impossible for the events depicted in the film Home Alone to have occurred. Join us as we look at the plots of 9 other films which would not work because of advances in technology.
Most movies are very much a product of the time at which they were produced and released. How often do we look back at an old film and comment on how unrealistic or preposterous it seems? What we often fail to take into account is how much society has changed over time to make things we once took for granted seem old-fashioned. When we take into account the impact of technology, it seems like almost every movie has some aspect which feels dated just a few years later.
This is a look at films which would have more than just minor plot hiccups if they had been made with an understanding of today’s level of technological advancement. These are films where the entire premise would just not make logical sense if we take into account the impact of modern technology. I left out movies based on actual events, because the lack of technology in those times is what lead to the events depicted in film in the first place. We’re not going back in time to reinvent history. We’re just pointing out movies which could not be made today in the same way because modern technology would have made a key aspect of the film’s plot not work.
Let’s get started…
The Premise: When bratty 8-year-old Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) acts out the night before a family trip to Paris, his mother (Catherine O’Hara) makes him sleep in the attic. After the McCallisters mistakenly leave for the airport without Kevin, he awakens to an empty house and assumes his wish to have no family has come true. But his excitement sours when he realizes that two con men (Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern) plan to rob the McCallister residence, and that he alone must protect the family home.
The Technological Limitation(s): No cell phones, but also no home security system, no internet, no heightened airport security.
What Wouldn’t Work Today: The family forgets Kevin in the first place when they are rushing to catch their flight because they did not wake up on time. They didn’t wake up on time because a wind storm knocked out power which reset their clocks and therefore also their alarm to wake up. If this happened today, chances are they would be using a cell phone alarm, and it would not have reset along with the power.
More importantly, with today’s heightened airport security the family would have figured out as soon as they got to security that Kevin was not there. They could then have just called him up on a cell phone to figure out where he was. Meanwhile, Kevin himself would me more than secure in his own home with modern security systems, remote cameras, motion sensors, etc.
The Premise: Sidney Prescott is a high school student in the fictional town of Woodsboro, California, who becomes the target of a mysterious killer in a Halloween costume known as Ghostface.
The Technological Limitation(s): No caller ID, no land lines.
What Wouldn’t Work Today: Before murdering his victims, Ghostface calls them on their home phones and torments them on the phone. Today, no one has landlines anymore, and the police could easily trace a call. Furthermore, with caller ID, most people don’t take phone calls from numbers they don’t recognize. This aspect of the plot (which is honestly the film’s most memorable aspect) couldn’t be utilized.
The Premise: Disguised as a human, a cyborg assassin known as a Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) travels from 2029 to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton). Sent to protect Sarah is Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), who divulges the coming of Skynet, an artificial intelligence system that will spark a nuclear holocaust. Sarah is targeted because Skynet knows that her unborn son will lead the fight against them. With the virtually unstoppable Terminator in hot pursuit, she and Kyle attempt to escape.
The Technological Limitation: Phone books, no internet.
What Wouldn’t Work Today: When the Terminator arrives from the future, he uses a phone book to find his victim, Sarah Connor. If this happened today, there would be no phone book for The Terminator to look at. Instead, Sarah’s name and address would probably have been all over the internet. Surely Skynet would have had access to the internet and been able to find Sarah Connor through computerized records so that the assassin wouldn’t have to use such an archaic form of intel. Sarah Connor would likely not have survived because the Terminator would not have taken out the other Sarah Connor’s first, which allowed Kyle Reece enough time to find her.
Sleepless in Seattle
The Premise: After the death of his wife, Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks) moves to Seattle with his son, Jonah (Ross Mallinger). When Jonah calls in to a talk-radio program to find a new wife for his father, Sam grudgingly gets on the line to discuss his feelings. Annie Reed (Meg Ryan), a reporter in Baltimore, hears Sam speak and falls for him, even though she is engaged. Unsure where it will lead, she writes Sam a letter asking him to meet her at the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day.
The Technological Limitation: No social media.
What Wouldn’t Work Today: Annie travels to Seattle to try and find Sam, not knowing really who he is or what he looks like. In today’s world, Annie would probably have found Sam online, and known what he looked like, and vice versa. This would have made it all but impossible for them to have the moments where they passed by each other while being strangers. They would also have communicated via text or email, and not through the mail.
The Premise: New York City policeman John McClane (Bruce Willis) is visiting his estranged wife (Bonnie Bedelia) and two daughters on Christmas Eve. He joins her at a holiday party in the headquarters of the Japanese-owned business she works for. But the festivities are interrupted by a group of terrorists who take over the exclusive high-rise, and everyone in it. Very soon McClane realizes that there’s no one to save the hostages — but him.
The Technological Limitation: No cell phones, internet.
What Wouldn’t Work Today: The film’s antagonists are thieves, and one of the first things they do is sever the phone lines of the building so that no one can call the police and they will have more time to do their job. As such, McCain can’t alert the police and is forced to act against the terrorists. Modern cell phones, or even an internet connection, would have changed everything.
The Premise: Leonard is tracking down the man who raped and murdered his wife. The difficulty, however, of locating his wife’s killer is compounded by the fact that he suffers from a rare, untreatable form of memory loss. Although he can recall details of life before his accident, Leonard cannot remember what happened fifteen minutes ago, where he’s going, or why.
The Technological Limitation: No smart phones, internet.
What Wouldn’t Work Today: Leonard relies on polaroid pictures, tattoos on his body, and notes to help him function despite his memory issue. There is no reason he couldn’t just use a smartphone to do all of this. His phone could tell him where he is going, would store all the pictures, voice notes, and records he would ever need.
One Hour Photo
The Premise: Sy Parrish runs a one-hour photo developing lab in a small mall. He’s a perfectionist about his work and generous to his regular customers, including a typical family headed by Will Yorkin. Over the years, he’s seen their family grow through their photographs, but when he sees evidence of Yorkin being unfaithful, coupled with a threat to his position, his already precarious mental state tips over the edge.
The Technological Limitation: Analog cameras.
What Wouldn’t Work Today: Not only are most photo-developing labs gone by now, cameras which use film are only utilized by hobbyists or professionals these days. That means not only would Sy’s job be very rare, the amount and type of photos he would receive would be very limited compared to what is shown in the movie. In other words, this film’s plot wouldn’t be feasible in today’s digital world.
The Premise: Woody, a good-hearted cowboy doll who belongs to a young boy named Andy, sees his position as Andy’s favorite toy jeopardized when his parents buy him a Buzz Lightyear action figure. Even worse, the arrogant Buzz thinks he’s a real spaceman on a mission to return to his home planet. When Andy’s family moves to a new house, Woody and Buzz must escape the clutches of maladjusted neighbor Sid Phillips and reunite with their boy.
The Technological Limitation: Cell phones, security cameras,
What Wouldn’t Work Today: If Toys came alive when no one is looking, we would likely have found out by now. Think about places where there are toys, and consider how those places are often under constant video surveillance. Day care centers, toy stores, doctors’ office lobbies, schools, etc. Plus, if toys are alive, why not everything else we manufacture? Most modern non-consumable products are made of the same things toys are made of.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
The Premise: Ferris Bueller has an uncanny skill at cutting classes and getting away with it. Intending to make one last duck-out before graduation, Ferris calls in sick, “borrows” a Ferrari, and embarks on a one-day journey through the streets of Chicago. On Ferris’ trail is high school principal Rooney (Jeffrey Jones), determined to catch him in the act.
The Technological Limitation: The internet, social media, cell phones.
What Wouldn’t Work Today: When Ferris Bueller ditches school, he doesn’t just lay low. He goes on a wild adventure. Some of his antics were very public, and certainly someone would have filmed him in the act of playing hooky. For all we know, Ferris could have gone viral, and then it would have been very easy to see he had been lying.
What other movies can you think of which would be ruined by modern technology?