Y2K (TV Movie 1999) Poster

(1999 TV Movie)

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The modern answer to THE RED MENACE
kzoofilm3 July 2003
With so much Y2K paranoia running rampant, it seems almost criminal of NBC to attempt to capitalize on people's fears by cranking out "Y2K: The Movie," a potboiler that purports to show us what could happen if worst-case scenarios play out on Jan. 1.

No, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse don't ride in, but just about everything else that could go wrong does. Airplanes plummet out of the skies; doors swing open in prisons; rationing of groceries goes into effect; banks refuse to let people close out their accounts.

The teleplay by Thomas Hines and Jonathan Fernandez lays out these calamities in the same shrill, overheated style once reserved for movies about "The Red Menace" and "Marijuana, The Weed with Roots in Hell." Like those cautionary tales, "Y2K" gets so swept up in trying to startle its audience that it finally exhausts your patience. It's ultimately little more than two hours of cardboard characters running a lengthy gauntlet.

A disclaimer at the beginning insists the film is "purely fictional" and "does not suggest or imply that any of these events could actually occur." So why bother making "Y2K" at all? Certainly there are no stories here that desperately needed to be told.

In typical disaster-movie fashion, Hines and Fernandez skip between multiple plot lines: a New York couple whose night of romance in Times Square is squelched by a power outage; an overzealous TV newswoman -- named Gaby, fitting enough -- who'd rather broadcast rumors instead of waiting for verified details about the various crises erupting; a sullen, disagreeable teen -- is there any other kind in bad made-for-TV movies? -- who gripes about having to spend New Year's Eve with her family instead of at a major-league rave; and, as our central figure, former MIT whiz kid Nick Cromwell (Ken Olin, late of "thirtysomething"), a self-professed "complex systems failure guy" who doubles as an all-purpose savior.

As midnight falls across the country's four time zones, Nick has no time for guzzling champagne. He's zooming from one tragedy to another, quelling chaos at the airport by guiding a jet to a safe landing on a blacked-out runaway, then rushing to a nuclear power plant to prevent a meltdown. "Who would you want taking care of this: Nick or some Homer Simpson?" Nick's co-worker asks one of the Doubting Thomases who questions Cromwell's qualifications.

The heroism must be genetic: Nick's dad (Ronny Cox), we learn, was part of the Apollo 13 rescue team.

Olin, prefacing his every line with an anguished sigh, looks sorely in need of rescue himself. But then any actor would have trouble delivering the dialogue in "Y2K." Most of these lines could have been heated up and poured over nacho chips.

Some of the movie's many sins might have been pardonable if "Y2K" had managed to include at least a few spectacular images or suspenseful situations. Instead, the special effects on view here are some of the chintziest since the last Gamera the Flying Turtle epic, and Dick Lowry's dull direction manages to make the nuclear plant sequences seem like "The China Syndrome" on Sominex.
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shawn_allen3 September 2001
I too watched the movie to see some of the possibilities. I was working with computers at the time and wanted to see how they were going to portray the hitch. When the fetal heart monitor started acting up, I knew that they missed the point. Y2K would only hit on something that counted the YEAR and then used it for clocking for the operations of the machine connected. A FHM doesn't care what year it is, no more than a toaster with a chip in it. And setting it (the FHM) to go hay-wire at 9:00 pm Pacific time (to match the 12:00 midnite East Coast time), c'mon, where did they stretch to get that?? Another thing. even with all the possiblities, they still reverted to a BIG EXPLOSION at the end. Someone should lock this away in a time capsule and bury it where no one would look.
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What was the purpose of this movie?
puffyluck11 August 2005
I was working for Bank X when this movie came out. The corporate offices actually released a statement, and we all had to attend a meeting, letting us know what the movie was about, how it portrayed banks, and how we had to assure customers that things that happened in the movie wouldn't happen in real life. I thought the meeting was a waste of time- who was really going to come in and freak about? Apparently half of their customers. We had people ordering money to bury in their backyards. Almost every customer warned me to go straight home on New Year's Eve. A lot of people wanted to know if the ATMs were going to be working, and when would we start rationing out the money? It was disgusting that people are this gullible and stupid.

This movie was a waste of time for anyone with half a brain, and the cause of a paranoid break down for people dumb enough to believe it. Thanks, NBC, for making the last two weeks of 1999 a living hell for me and the other bank employees.
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Really, really bad...and dated...
MovieAddict201619 January 2004
I looked forward to this before the turn of the millenium, but it's nothing more than a silly cash-in on what was considered to be a possible fall of mankind -- not something to cash in one, folks! But it does.

I saw this on NBC, I think. Basically, the plot is what we all feared: computers fail, the world starts going awry. It's such a cheap film that I've always remembered a scene where two people kiss and you can see their spit dangling from mouth to mouth. Cheap, low budget, and not good at all.

0.5/5 stars. What a disappointment. What a cash-in.

  • John Ulmer
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A Laugh from the Past.
JRGBUCS7 July 2001
In 1999, there was a bit of wonder what will happen when Y2K strikes. A lot of people were afraid that the world would end. Another lot of people thought that the computers would go heywire and we wouldn't be able to use anything made before 1976. One person suggested that 1-1-2000 will be used by International Corporations to take over the world by confusing people with computer problems. I even heard one freak say that a planet in our Solar System will crash in to ours and that the upper class will be living on Mars by 1-1-2000. Sadly one group decided to make this movie.

Basically this movie sucks and nearly everyone knew it the day it was aired. We laughed at how stupid it was and moved on. Now Y2K is like Pepsi Clear, it came in to our lives, waisted a few minutes of our time and left us.

I don't know if this movie is out there still. Probably a few people recorded it and still have it. I'm sure it's collecting dust in some Hollywood storage shed somewhere. But the general feeling is that this movie's lost forever, I hope.
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the only scary thing about y2k is how bad this movie is
rah-822 November 1999
This movie was completely a waste of time. I watched it completely drunk and was still not impressed. Nothing happens in the entire movie. You wait for something to happen, and the fear slowly creeps in as you realize that this movie is not going to amount to anything. Save two hours of your life and read a book instead.
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I'm a Y2K expert and found this movie to be Lame, Bland, Irritating and Stupid
Ken-20823 November 1999
I wrote the primary Y2K software used by thousands of programs at one of the world's largest insurance company. I was really looking forward to seeing this movie and found it very disappointing.

This movie was poorly done and lacked suspense. Virtually no thought or creativity went into making this movie. Some parts were just plain stupid. For example, a person from Washington comes to sit in on a high level meeting the day before Y2K and the Washington person has to be told what Y2K is --- obviously that was done for the audience...but almost any layman knows what Y2k is and it seemed foolish having someone on a high level committee that didn't have a clue about Y2K.

Another really stupid thing was the nuclear power plant that was getting ready to blow up....the guy was running around in a room with exposed rod cores...in real life I would think he would been killed by radiation. Some of the dialogue also seemed unnecessary and somewhat irritating. In particular the lady that comes in to the nuclear power plant and says she knows what the problem was --- but does she tell people what it is --- no...she waists a lot of time talking in riddles. If a plant is going to blow up in 60 minutes I really doubt if someone would be that stupid and waste time beating around the bush.

The technical problems had lame excuses, poor setups, and unrealistic events. It's obvious that the writers of this movie didn't bother to ask programmers for input. This is pretty much a poor excuse of a science fiction movie--- all fiction very little fact.

This is just a bad, poorly done movie. But maybe that is good. If it was done well, it might have been taken more seriously and caused unrealistic concerns about Y2K. However if you are looking for entertainment or realistic info about Y2K, then don't watch this movie. It is a waste of time.
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Irwin Allen-esque production about the millennium.
MickeyTo22 November 1999
I have to say that this made-for-TV movie held no surprises for me whatsoever. I expected it to be a less than average movie, complete with cheap effects, poor acting and a dull script. I also expected, and received, the standard plot line for a film-of-the-moment, this time about the Y2K bug and its effects on the world.

The story opens up on December 30, 1999 and we are introduced, in a very patronizing way, to the main cast and to the plot at hand. Someone is getting a tour of the facilities where only the best computer wizards have been hard at work ensuring that all is well when year 2000 hits. I assume that this person taking the tour was of some importance and I gathered that he was completing some sort of inspection. Why then, did he ask his tour guide what all the fuss about Y2K was about? Why, I ask, when this character is responsible for reporting back that everything is OK? Why? - Because this would be a convenient way of setting up the story for an audience that must have been living in a cave for the past three years.

We are soon introduced to the hero of the story, Nick Cromwell, played by Ken Olin. He is apparently the best there is and if he can't save us, no one can. Nick is aided by a pack of computer hackers who all have their own special powers, I suppose.

So we're all set. Enter Nick's family. His wife, Kelly, is beautiful and she is a doctor. Their daughter Alix is also beautiful, but she is spoiled and she hangs around with a bad crowd. The 'bad crowd' is two computer hackers who to live in a funky van straight out of the seventies. Alix is upset because mother won't let her go to a rave on New Years Eve. Bet ya can't guess what's gonna happen here!

Minor characters are introduced without reason (except to give us perspective from various locations across the United States). There is a couple in Manhatten. He plans on proposing to her at midnight. There is the old man who has turned his home into a fortress in order to protect himself. Even Jay Leno has a role, playing himself (as he does so often) making jokes about the Y2K bug on his television show.

As the big moment nears we are witnesses to some minor horrors. One character finds that a supermarket is closing early, much to the dismay of a line up of customers. Another finds that the banks are only giving out $20 per customer.

Soon we are treated to a world tour as the international dateline begins to hit the islands off of New Zealand and a disaster with an airforce plane occurs at 12:01am their time. Problems start to occur all over the world and that's when the true fun begins.

Unfortunately the film focuses in on one or two small tragedies by the time the dateline hits the United States. A nuclear reactor malfunctions in Sweden, killing everyone, so our hero must fly out to Washington state where a similar plant is housed. Of course this plant is located minutes away from his family, including that trampy daughter who, you guessed it, snuck out and went to the party anyway.

Sorry, but Y2K is lacking in credibility every step of the way. The effects are cheap if and when they do exist. The characters are one dimensional, failing miserably to elicit any sympathy from me. I could have cared less if that stupid kid got to the party or not. The film fails even to rank up there as a low-grade Irwin Allen flick. The story line just didn't come to life (it wasn't deadly enough) and the characters lacked the glamour of those from Allen's films.

And finally, this film dates itself before it even gets out of the starting gate. It was released on television six weeks before the big event. If that Y2K bug fails to reap havoc, this film will become a laughable implausability, and it will probably never be seen again. On the other hand, if we do have the catastrophes some are predicting, who's going to want to watch a B-grade TV movie about it?
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Laughing at it, not with it.
Comsat Angel18 April 2002
What an hilarious comedy! Oh.

It's supposed to be serious?

This must be one of the most rapidly-dating films ever. Released 6 weeks before Y2K and obsolete 5 minutes after Y2K. It can only really be viewed as a fascinating sociological document of the time(if you feel wildly generous) or a cynical, rather poorly-made attempt to cash in on the crisis de jour at the time (if you feel more realistic).

Judging by the time it was being shown, 6:00 a.m., I don't think Sky feel it deserves a very high profile either.
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The movie that makes "Space Mutiny" look good.
varro-29 December 1999
Even Dr. Forrester wouldn't be as cruel as to inflict this movie on Joel/Mike and the Bots. Unbelievable continuity gaps, maudlin sentimentality, and wooden acting make this movie unwatchable unless you're either 1. ) drunk, 2.) stoned or 3.) play the MST3K Home Game. I can't believe I wasted two hours of my time on this turkey; after all, the world *will* end on December 31. ;)
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Dumb movie, but it was perhaps intentional
HeyRick19 March 2013
I'm giving this a five out of ten. Not because I'm a moron, but because I think this movie is played with a straight face but is tongue in cheek and chock full of just about every applicable trope possible. Let's start with a quote from the beginning, spoken by a painfully over-the-top radio DJ:"They're about to celebrate the new millennium in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Sixty-three million tuna are about to have the biggest party in history!"

That, if nothing, should have been an indication not to take this film seriously. Then... There are many things here that if you were being analytical you'd blink twice before steam poured out of your ears. No no no, don't think. That's key. Just switch your brain off and go with the story. Don't worry, there's not much of a story, so it won't require effort. It's better than watching the rain out the window, right?

PS: +1 to what all the other reviews said, but I think some actually took this film seriously. Oh dear!
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The worst movie of the millennium!
klchu22 November 1999
The shear stupidness of this movie cannot be measured. Putting aside all of the technical inaccuracies of this movie (and there are MANY!), this is just a bad movie. Not only does Y2K affect every single electronic component in the world, but it also affects everyone's brain! Add one drop of common sense to this movie, and the entire plot (such as it is) falls apart. "Y2K" makes me long for the rich characters and enthralling plot of "Leprechauns!"
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All hype no action.
cmyklefty14 December 2001
I was excited to see this TV movie. NBC had advertised it during November 1999. Y2K plot was concerning what would happen in New Year's Eve 2000. I found it dull and uninteresting the plot. If Mystery Science Theater 3000 was still on the air, Y2K has it possibilities being on this show. A waste of time see Panic in Year Zero. The story is better than this movie.
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Excellent movie! A lot of excitement!
Anders7 January 2001
I just saw this movie on TV yesterday on January 6th. and I think it is one of the best movies of that kind that I've ever seen! I'm a Sci-fi fan and loves to play around with computers. I also at times in movies like the "take big risks that might mean giving up your own life to save a lot of others" kind of attitude if it is used in a realistic way and not in a like super hero kind of way. During the whole time this movie lasted I sat glued to the screen! It's actually a long time since I last did that! And it was also realistic in the way that just year ago and a few days we came to the same moment that this movie is all about. We did not know exactly what would happen when we around the world came to midnight on December 31st. Luckily we did not experience anything like in this movie, but there were a chance of it happening!

So to everyone that is sci-fi fans, likes computers, likes excitement and likes it when people work together to save a whole nation or the world, this is the movie to watch! To everyone else, give it a shot anyway! You might just like the movie too! :)
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Excellent comments, anyway.
Mark Kinsler24 October 2007
I haven't seen this movie, so I suppose I shouldn't comment. But the rest of the comments on it are excellent, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to thank those who did see it. The couple of comments from 1999 are particularly interesting and of some historic significance.

I became an involuntary Y2K expert when in 1999 I started hearing bogus experts discuss how the world was going to end without understanding anything about how it worked in the first place. The more I tried to calm people down by assuring them that people and not computers were in ultimate control of most systems, the more furious they became. It got to the point where I started a radio show to discuss the matter.

I do hope that someone writes a good book or at least a comprehensive magazine article on the Y2K phenomenon. It was fun while it lasted, and the domain y2k.com has been for sale for years now.

Little did we know that we in the USA had lots more to worry about less than two years later.
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Good director, standard story
Sycotron22 November 1999
Pretty predictable but well directed. Dick Lowry does a great job of keeping the action moving and the suspense going even though the outcome should be obvious to anyone has seen at least one standard TV disaster movie. It will be fun to watch this movie a few years from now. I'm sure it will have the same camp value as watching something like Logan's Run for it's vision of the future.
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Had potential...
Marl-222 November 1999
The main plot of this movie in general had nothing to do with Y2K except it being the cause of the possible nuclear-disaster in Washington. The movie could have easily been renamed and had the Y2K problem taken out and still would have made sense. I'll give the writer credit for a good effort, but the casting was terrible as were the special effects. Definetely a movie for the TV only.
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