Bicentennial Man

What the heck is the matter with Robin Williams? Lately, he seems come out with nothing but sappy melodramas like Patch Adams and Jakob the Liar. These movies are supposed to lift your spirits and make you feel good, instead, they leave you with the urge to vomit. Williams is a talented actor, but all of these roles come off as plain annoying. Even worse, Bicentennial Man goes from trying to be about life to ruminating on death. The movie, based on the story by science fiction legend Isaac Asimov and The Postronic Man by Asimov and Robert Silverberg, wavers between trying to be cute and surprisingly depressing ruminations on death.

Williams is a robot domestic servant, bought by Richard Martin (Sam Neill, Merlin, The Horse Whisperer) for his family. Martin names the robot Andrew (after a sickenly uncute joke), and the family begins to adapt to life with him. Martin's daughter Amanda (Hallie Kate Eisenberg, The Insider and the little girl in the Pepsi commercials) takes an instant liking to him. Andrew begins to develop in odd ways; he is creative, seems to show love and curiosity, and Martin is intrigued. Of course, Andrew develops a sense of humor, which provides the token scene of Williams' improvisation. Martin resolves to let Andrew fulfill his destiny, whatever that may be. Andrew wants to be human. The movie then begins awkwardly jumping forward, years at a time, showing Martin's trek for his humanity. Along the way, Andrew meets up with Rupert Burns (Oliver Platt, Lake Placid, Bulworth), the son of his original designer. Burns begins designing parts for Andrew that vastly increases his human appearance. Andrew also eventually ends up meeting Portia (Embeth Davidtz, Mansfield Park, Murder in the First, who also plays the adult Amanda), the granddaughter of Amanda.

For the most part, the aging effects are a little above par. Most of the actors look older, instead of looking like the same actors with makeup. The special effects are also generally pleasing, but nothing spectacular. Hovering above (or below) everything else is the story. Director Chris Columbus (Stepmom, Mrs. Doubtfire) and screenwriter Nicholas Kazan (Fallen, Matilda) put together a boring story that tries to be cute. In the first part of the movie, every line spoken by Eisenberg and Williams tries to elicit an "aw shucks" reaction from the audience, but falls flat. "It sucks" proclaims Martin's other daughter, an ominous (and probably unintentional) foreshadowing of the rest of the movie. Once the years begin to pass, everyone around Andrew begins to die, and the movie heads further downhill. Being a robot makes Andrew nearly immortal, something he did not consider. None of the advertisements for this movie mentions how much of a downer it is. The title refers to the length of Andrew's journey, but it feels more like the length of the movie.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
2 hours, 11 minutes, Rated PG for language and some sexual content.

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