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Overall Rating

Awesome: 15.69%
Worth A Look: 13.73%
Pretty Bad: 21.57%
Total Crap: 23.53%

7 reviews, 60 user ratings

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Bicentennial Man
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by Greg Muskewitz

"More Williams sentimentality, but tolerable if not emcumbered."
3 stars

It seems as though a lot of critics resent Robin Williams for trying to go beyond the obvious depth of range of his comedic boundaries. If he's not simply doing his schitck, then forget about it. But why then, praytell, did movies such as "Patch Adams" do so astronomically well in box-office receipets? Audiences enjoy the sentimentality he lays on, and if they go for it, then so can I.

Take for instance the target audience for this film: families and or children ages 8-13. They're the same audiences who want to see movies like "Pokémon," or "Paulie," or "Prince of Egypt" (just to name a few Ps). I think a major rule of being a film critic is understanding the audience the movie is intended for. That doesn't mean that just because it is designated for kids that the critic has to go easy on it, but it does mean taking into consideration who will be watching it.

Robin Williams plays Andrew the Android. He/it's a mechanical maid designed to work on command of the family. However, something is not right with Andrew; he has the capacity for creativity, or so he learns when he breaks Little Miss' (Hallie Kate Eisenberg) favorite glass horse, and designs a wooden one all on his own. The manufacturor feels threatened by the freak-accident, but the owner, only known as Sir (Sam Neil) wants it changed in no way. Instead he puts Andrew to work, making clocks and designing things, and before you know it, Sir has hired Andrew a lawyer so he can open his own bank account. It's all the way until about the hour and a half mark (full running time is 2 hours 13 minutes) until the android gets made over to look like Robin Willaims.

The story takes place over two centuries, hence the title "Bicentennial Man," and throughout the film he stays in touch with Little Miss as she grows up and older (becoming the lovely Embeth Davidtz), surpassing her, and coming around again to meet and fall in love with her granddaughter Portia (Davidtz again). That in turn leads to the desire to be human, replacing his internal mechanisms with mechanical organs, etc. It becomes his conquest to be appointed "human," having to bring his case to the President of the World Congress, and other large steps.

Like usual, there's nothing William's character can't do, from being creative to getting flesh, having sex (if he's just a machine, doesn't that make him a giant vibrator?), and falling in love. The young, more impressionable children will eat this up in utter enjoyment and fantasitical excitement, as the adult audience might find this a little off kilter, though still entertaining, and sure to have to answer the occasional "fact-of-life" question (like "What's sperm?").

During the last half hour is where the film takes a large turn in the direction it had been heading. Whereas it was mostly audience pleasing, it veered off on Andrew's quest to become human, and many of younger children will have a tough time trying grasp what its intention was. Everything up until then was in a consistant flow, but with a little explanation and Q&A on the ride home, whatever went over their heads, I'm sure will be able to be pieced together by the parents.

The story was based on sci-fi guru Isaac Asimov's story "The Postitronic Man." It was adapted by Nicholas Kazan, and in the process, end up twisting it into a Disney-ized machine intended to bring the audiences in by masses and cash in in their usual attitude of greediness. Partly I think the movie would have been better off aimed for audiences somewhat older, seeing as how the message of wanting to be human would better be appreciated. Asimov had a creative mind, and a lot of the coplexities that exsisted in "The Postitronic Man" have been erased. The only place you'll really see any justice done to his work is in some of the old "Twilight Zone" episodes.

Director Chris Columbus ("Mrs Doubtfire," "Home Alone") uses Williams as a direct source to milk the pathos for all their worth, but in the end it comes out a futile waste; the youngsters are too overshot to be affected, and the adults will see through it, not being able to care.

"Bicentennial Man" is mostly harmless (though I'd argue with the PG rating (there were enough 'sh*ts,' or lines like "I'm tired of your bitch-work" to sustain a PG-13), but kids will get a kick out of it, and if nothing more, the parents can catch a little nap.

Great aging make-up. Probably the front-runner for an Oscar. The visuals were nicely done too.

Final Verdict: B-

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 12/19/99 13:31:47
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User Comments

12/24/13 Michelle O farfetched and flimsy = even Robin's brilliance couldn't make this decent 2 stars
6/14/09 chippyneil isaac was ahead of his time.very thought provoking and yes emotional is,nt that the point.l 5 stars
3/08/08 Pamela White Futuristic and interesting that even a robot isn't happy with his body 4 stars
2/01/08 Lrd.Gov Jake B Privett Our Robin Williams only just makes this film watchable. He's a comic master. 3 stars
8/07/07 kedda ghazarian (other) hello other kedda ghazarian. we have the same name. i live in australia where are you from? 1 stars
8/27/05 ES Couldn't stand this movie, preachy PC crap, as if robots will be a future minority race 1 stars
8/22/05 Naka Nope. 2 stars
7/27/05 tony a very good film. the only drama movie williams dosnt ruin 4 stars
4/14/05 kArYn mEndOzA nicE mOviE 5 stars
11/19/04 Zeus Great movie 5 stars
10/22/04 dawn chai its a moving film about a life and love 5 stars
5/22/04 christen pachoco Superb!!! 5 stars
5/20/04 Jason Asimov must be spinning in his grave 1 stars
9/24/03 DM Starts okay, goes downhill fast 2 stars
6/27/03 cochese Man, for a big star Williams sure does pump out some shit movies. 1 stars
12/08/02 Nevz Muppets! watch the damn film properly! 4 stars
10/27/02 Matt Neopalitano Robin's acting talents would have been better applied to "Mork & Mindy 2000!". 1 stars
6/22/02 qtpie okay 3 stars
4/30/02 Tiffany Faye Hawthorne From promising start, dives into interminable bathos. 2 stars
4/24/02 Danielle Ophelia No one escapes unscathed...not even teh damn Key Grip. 1 stars
12/25/01 Andrew Carden It Wasn't A Disater In Any Way, but Neither Was It A Great Movie. 3 stars
11/21/01 Kenneth E. Carper Anyone who hates this movie is a heartless moron! 4 stars
8/29/01 Gary Bollocks 1 stars
8/09/01 Mr. Hat Interesting. Not always that good, but interesting. 3 stars
2/16/01 Jun Too shallow and too hollow the story line...what's more to say? 1 stars
1/30/01 puff the magic dragon Isaac asimov's wonderful story is reduced to sentimental slush !!! 3 stars
12/26/00 Turtle A Robin Williams flick that just cannot be missed! 5 stars
12/19/00 Paulsj Bring some Tissue!! I had to make sure I wasnt wearing a skirt , I cried so much!! 4 stars
11/24/00 Connoisseur I agree with Gen. 4 stars
9/12/00 Jed The heck with the critics this is a excellent movie. 5 stars
9/04/00 The Extreaminizer Brilliant Idea Killed by Slowness, Overlength, and Horrible Ending 1 stars
8/07/00 lulany I wanted to Like this movie because I love Robin but it's just too dull and predictable. 2 stars
7/31/00 Bender Overlong, but entertaining and touching. 4 stars
7/10/00 Art Richardson I loved this movie. RW is Awesome 5 stars
7/03/00 Jed &uck you people this is a very good film this proofs that critical treatment can be insane. 5 stars
6/23/00 fire-n-ice i loved this movie 5 stars
6/18/00 Gen I like the sci-fi futuristic stuff 4 stars
6/01/00 danilo how can you not like this movie? 5 stars
3/25/00 Richard Wright It would have been 3 stars if not for those SICK inducing final 20 mins,RW is a sappy b... 2 stars
3/09/00 David Rogers I hate the Pepsi girl! She can't act! That alone is the reason you should dump this. 2 stars
3/07/00 J. Alán Blankenship After all the lame movies that have come out, this one was a breath of fresh air. =) 4 stars
2/04/00 kedda ghazarian very very spectacular 5 stars
1/15/00 Kevin Cho Robin WIlliams HAS to stop making these movies. He is a great person, actor - MOVE ON! 2 stars
1/15/00 Marli It'a good if you watch it just for fun 4 stars
1/10/00 Jim Russo TV ads show it as Robin W. comedy - - and so it draws kids and parents - - what a rip off. 1 stars
1/05/00 Joel Harwood It makes u laugh and cry 5 stars
1/02/00 Richard Hendricks Great chick-flick. Stays close enough to the book to make it worthwhile. It's hollywood! 4 stars
12/31/99 W. Krauss pleasant change of pace----good acting 4 stars
12/29/99 Booyah! This was crap. People who take stuff like this as good film need to look a bit deeper. 1 stars
12/29/99 Nessus Ham fisted at times and slow at others, but with some redeeming qualities. 3 stars
12/26/99 Lame-Oh it was okay 3 stars
12/25/99 Ken Kopin As good as can be expected. (Should have been 6 hours long to do justice to the story.) 4 stars
12/22/99 PhilmPhreak It didn't suck. 4 stars
12/19/99 Boyd What's another word for putrid? 1 stars
12/19/99 Mr Showbiz Doggedly uplifting scifi heart-tugger. 2 stars
12/14/99 Steven Kelly I thought that it was awesome 5 stars
12/13/99 Malbert *Much* better than I expected, a very special movie 5 stars
12/12/99 jenn "Blu Smrf" powerful, amazing, moving,,,,need i say more? an all out incredible movie! 5 stars
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  17-Dec-1999 (PG)



Directed by
  Chris Columbus

Written by
  Nicholas Kazan

  Robin Williams
  Sam Neill
  Embeth Davidtz
  Oliver Platt
  Wendy Crewson
  Allan Rich

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