Bicentennial Man

Bicentennial Man

Bicentennial Man

From the acclaimed director of MRS. DOUBTFIRE, Academy Award(R)-winner Robin Williams (1997, Best Actor, GOOD WILL HUNTING) stars in a delightfully heartwarming comedy about one extraordinary android who just wants to be an ordinary guy! It doesn’t take long for the Martin family to realize Andrew (Williams), who was purchased as a mere “household appliance,” is no run-of-the-mill robot! Funny, incredibly lifelike, and possessing an astounding level of creativity, this special machine soon takes on a life of his own — and eventually begins a centuries-long quest to achieve true humanity! A crowd-pleasing comedy hit — everyone is sure to love this touchingly entertaining movie treat!Bicentennial Man was stung at the 1999 box office, due no doubt in part to poor timing during a backlash against Robin Williams and his treacly performances in two other, then-recent releases, Jakob the Liar and Patch Adams. But this near-approximation of a science fiction epic, based on works by Isaac Asimov and directed, with uncharacteristic seriousness of purpose, by Chris Columbus (Mrs. Doubtfire), is much better than one would have known from the knee-jerk negativity and box-office indifference.

Williams plays Andrew, a robot programmed for domestic chores and sold to an upper-middle-class family, the Martins, in the year 2005. The family patriarch (Sam Neill) recognizes and encourages Andrew’s uncommon characteristics, particularly his artistic streak, sensitivity to beauty, humor, and independence of spirit. In so doing, he sets Williams’s tin man on a two-century journey to become more human than most human beings.

As adapted by screenwriter Nicholas Kazan, the movie’s scale is novelistic, though Columbus isn’t the man to embrace with Spielbergian confidence its sweeping possibilities. Instead, the Home Alone director shakes off his familiar tendencies to pander and matures, finally, as a captivating storyteller. But what really makes this film matter is its undercurrent of deep yearning, the passion of Andrew as a convert to the human race and his willingness to sacrifice all to give and take love. Williams rises to an atypical challenge here as a futuristic Everyman, relying, perhaps for the first time, on his considerable iconic value to make the point that becoming human means becoming more like Robin Williams. Nothing wrong with that. –Tom Keogh

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Comments
131 of 140 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Not a kid’s film at all. Touching and thought provoking., July 2, 2000
By 
F. Esteve “Franco” (San Juan, PR USA) –

This review is from: Bicentennial Man (DVD)
The first thing that struck me about this film was the fact that it wasn’t funny. Sure it had its moments like other dramas, but being billed as a comedy, this was surprising. The second is that most children watching this film will be bored and confused with the subject matter. Although it is a clean family movie, the topics covered (i.e. euthanasia, discrimination, immortality, etc.) are most definitely adult.
I am glad it wasn’t a simple comedy, as within I found a touching, human story about a robot’s search for meaning and humanity. It is a remarkable film, with great acting by both Robin Williams and Sam Neil. This was combined with a great score and wonderful visuals. It truly is a great film.
In conclusion, if you’re looking for the comedy from the trailer look elsewhere. If you’re looking for a family movie which your younger kids can get into, look elsewhere. This is a thought provoking and touching drama which contemplates very complex issues in a highly entertaining manner. I loved this film and highly recommend it.

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56 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Film Gives a Heart to Asimov’s Intellectual Robot Story, December 14, 2001
By 
Austin C. Beeman (Waterville, Ohio United States) –
(REAL NAME)
  

This review is from: Bicentennial Man (DVD)
Based on the Isaac Asimov short story “The Bicentennial Man” which was later adapted by Robert Silverberg in “The Positronic Man,” director Chris Columbus has managed to merge a powerful romantic epic with Asimov’s intellectual story.
The story was written to celebrate the 1976 Bicentennial of the USA and Asimov’s story told about a robot that strives to be human. While this is a very prevalent idea nowadays, i.e. Data on Star Trek, it was pretty original at that time.
Columbus shows wonderful respect for the source material, which he betters in every way. How often can you say that of a movie? Columbus understands that in the future everything will not be immediately different. The film portray this by slowly adding futuristic elements on top of real settings. In an era of CGI sets that don’t look real, this sci-fi movie is all the better for it’s matter of fact approach to the future.
The performances are uniformly great with Williams giving such a strong performance beneath the costume that when his face is revealed it is a little startling. He also injects a sense of humor that makes more powerful the romance and pathos of the plot.
This is a film that deserved better than it got. It is an epic, in the sense of Tolstoy and “Gone With the Wind”, with a science fiction worldview.
In this film of a robot’s search to become more human, we feel more strongly the precious gift of our own humanity. That is all we can ask of any work of art.

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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
One of Williams’ best yet!, December 17, 2000
By 
DANIEL J. ANTIL (Oregon, USA) –

This review is from: Bicentennial Man [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I have just seen Bicentennial Man (on cable) for the second time. I loved it even more than my first time seeing it in the theater, because I knew the story in advance and could relax and look forward to it, without being overwhelmed by the wonderful special effects and little tidbits of wonderment that pervade the movie. Quite simply, Robin Williams portrays a robot who becomes human. But, it’s so much deeper than that. I must say it is one of Robin’s best works… and I’ve seen them all. It has his delightful comedy, but moreover, his perfect portrayal with pathos and beguiling charm. The movie begins with the robot (dubbed Andrew) being introduced to the family (with Sam Neill as the father). One of the little girls in the family makes a quick connection with the new robot (Williams), and they become fast friends… for life, as it turns out. As time goes by, Andrew (Williams) becomes more and more a member of the family. But, Andrew also becomes more human, and eventually goes to search for his identity, and to seek out others like him. The film moves rather quickly from one time period to another, since they have to cover Andrew’s lifespan of two-hundred years (hence the title). Throughout his life, he is constantly evolving, whether mechanically, thru technological improvements, or just by learning human qualities. The thrust of it is that he eventually becomes human, but is not recognized as such until the end of his life. (There is a very moving speech he gives to some delegation who will decide if he is human or not.) It is a landmark film of human emotions and human joy, all experienced and displayed by a robot. It is not the comic fluff of some earlier Williams’ films, nor the hardhitting drama of some of his others. Rather, it is the compelling joyousness and heartwarming comedy of a machine who wants to be human… played expertly by Williams, of course. I plan to watch it again, very soon. It is a great movie.

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