This film follows the 'life' and times of the lead character, an android who is purchased as a household robot programmed to perform menial tasks. Within a few days the Martin family realizes that they don't have an ordinary droid as Andrew begins to experience emotions and creative thought. In a story that spans two centuries, Andrew learns the intricacies of humanity while trying to stop those who created him from destroying him. Written by
The three rules that govern Andrew's behavior are the Three Laws of Robotics, originally defined by Isaac Asimov in his science fiction stories. See more »
When Andrew and Portia are playing chess in the park, the chess board is at first very unusually set up as most of Portia's pieces are on the board side closer to Andrew and vice versa. In the next moment, the board has changed completely. See more »
Owing to the fact that it is based on an Isaac Asimov story, `Bicentennial Man' turns out to be a more interesting and meaningful film than both its advertising campaign and its own opening section would indicate. The caveat for those seeking out a fun film for the entire family is that this movie, though initially sold as a warm cuddly comedy in the tradition of say `Mrs. Doubtfire,' actually deals with some very heavy and heady issues like sexuality, aging and dying, which may make it less-than-ideal viewing for young children.
The first section of the film is, by far, its weakest. In 2005, the wealthy Martin family receives delivery of a brand new servant android (Robin Williams) who, almost immediately, begins to display a remarkable range of human emotions and interests. Thus, we are set up for yet another in a long line of predictable tales (i.e. `Harry and the Hendersons,' `Stuart Little') in which a family comes to adopt a strange, not-quite-human creature, welcoming him in as one of their own. Indeed, in the film's early stages, there is no shortage of either bland humor or drippy sentimentality as Andrew, the android, ingratiates himself with all but one of the Martin household. The `wit' in the film consists, basically, of endless jokes about how Andrew takes all idioms at literal face value, a running gag that is, finally, as unoriginal as it is wearying.
Then, however, just as we are about to give up hope in it, the movie becomes more intriguing. Rather than staying within the context of the present life of this one family, the screenplay begins to move ahead in time, exploring Andrew's gradual growth toward total humanity, while the initial family grows up and eventually dies off. Actually, despite how one may feel about the film itself, one must admire its boldness and audacity, for it is not often that, in a film billed as a mass audience comedy, all the main characters pass on to their heavenly reward at one point or another but, then again, how many comedies span a two hundred year time period? `Bicentennial Man' obviously has more on its mind than mere fish-out-of-water buffoonery, as it becomes an often-elegiac reflection on the transience of life, the meaning of being human and the search for societal acceptance. The mood of the film is remarkably hushed and reflective at times, which again might make it slow going for the modern mass audience more conditioned to a faster pace and giddier tone, especially in a Robin Williams film (though, of late, his films have certainly been taking on a much more somber quality, vide `What Dreams may Come,' `Patch Adams' and `Jakob the Liar'). There are times when `Bicentennial Man' seems overly impressed with its own self-importance, yet one appreciates its refusal to settle for the easy path of cheap comedy and upbeat sentiments. There is, indeed, a real sadness to much of the film.
Special acknowledgement should be made of the superb art direction, set design, costume design, makeup and special effects that together give the film its understated and believable futuristic look. In addition, James Horner's melancholic symphonic score, though a bit lubricious at times, does create an atmosphere of contemplative seriousness that perfectly matches the tone and purpose of the film.
`Bicentennial Man' may not turn out to be what you are looking for when you first seek it out, but, if you approach it with an open mind and a certain degree of tolerance and indulgence, you may be pleasantly surprised and, perhaps, even rewarded.
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