ISP set to win an Oscar

The Register goes to the movies

AOL, the online service provider that boasts more than 14 million members worldwide, could be up for an Oscar for its outstanding performance in the new romantic comedy You've Got Mail. AOL co-stars in this remake of the 1940 movie The Shop Around the Corner acting as the conduit that unites Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. In the movie, they play two rival bookstore owners who loathe the sight of one another. But in cyberspace -- thanks to AOL -- they fall in love. Enchanting as this simple tale may be, AOL's performance is faultless, which is perhaps why so many film pundits are calling for AOL to be honoured by the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences. But AOL is also in the running for best special effects. The speed at which both characters were able to log on to the Internet was simply breathtaking. Neither Tom Hanks nor Meg Ryan had to endure a busy dial tone when logging on. Or, for that matter, the usual modem handshaking period. Nor did they find themselves left dangling in cyberspace limbo as their connection failed midway through drafting one of their simmering e-mails. And when they did log on swiftly and effortlessly, they were never confronted with a huge advertisement trying to sell the AOL Guide. It was brilliant, just brilliant. Not since Jurassic Park have the creatives in the special FX labs had such a testing job trying to convince audiences to suspend their disbelief. Of course, some critics who attended the AOL-sponsored preview of the movie will be unable to see past the movie's product placement, an IBM ThinkPad for him and a lovely Apple PowerBook laptop for her. And as well as reels of screen shots, AOL also managed to plug its instant messaging service too for a well-rounded performance. Despite all this, there is just one matter that evades some measure of understanding. If computers and the Internet are supposed to make communication so much faster -- instantaneous, some say -- why is this film 20 minutes longer than the 40s original when Margaret Sullivan and James Stewart had to rely on the US postal service to ferry their innermost thoughts? You've Got Mail is due to be released in the UK on Friday 26 February. ®

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