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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 Chris Parry

"Can someone PLEASE tell James Horner to quit with the piano?"
1 stars

What is it with Hollywood, and Robin Williams movies in particular, that they need to have a piano concerto going all the way through every film? Can we just, if only for one second, have solemn silence please? A little time to gather our own thoughts or be absorbed into the story? Would that be permissible? When James Horner walks down the street, does a tiny piano ring in his ears? When Randy Newman wakes up in the morning, is there an orchestra in the corner of the room? When Danny Elfman feels a bit romantic, does a French Horn pipe up from the bathroom? I think not. So WHY in hell do they feel it necessary to inject instrumentals into the most basic scenes of every film Hollywood produces?

So anyways… storyline. In the near future, when robots are the latest household appliance, a family finds themselves hosting their very own metallic guy. But their metallic guy has a bit of a glitch. He thinks like a human. Cue many potential opporuntities for thought-provoking discussion. Can someone made up of artificial body parts ever be considered a man? Is it wrong to shun someone just because they are made of metal? Does a person with an artificial heart become part robot? Will humans ever live forever with the aid of robotics? Can a soul ever be manufactured? What is the basis of humanity?

But hey, we're getting a bit ahead of ourselves here. This is a Robin Williams movie. Robin Williams movies don't deal with the questions of the universe. Robin Williams movies deal with emotional manipulation and marketing formulas. If this guy was doing a screen version of Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance, the bikes would be replaced by Herbie The Love Bug and the cast would spout old jokes from his stand-up routine. And that damn piano would be playing. Constantly.

This film had all the hallmarks of being groundbreaking. You have a fantastic book that it's based on. The aforementioned philosophical questions. And a huge budget. So is the film good? Yes, it's good. For me to POOP on.

Bicentennial Man: the film, is a crock of excreta. The original book deserved to be handled with kid gloves and if it were, you'd be talking Oscars all around. What it did not deserve (and what no audience deserves) is the Robin Williams treatment. In fact, this film is going to be notorious for three reasons.

The first is it signifies the end of Williams as an A-list star. He ain't marquee anymore. Once you've watched Patch Adams and spent two hours at the dentist getting your teeth cleaned as a result you start to hear some alarm bells. What Dreams May Come was an amazing looking film but the one beef most people had was they didn't buy the romance of the leads. Robin Williams was one such lead. Flubber did for kids films what Keanu Reeves does for Shakespeare. Jakob The Liar couldn't have been a dumber fiasco of a flick if it was called "The Brilliance Of Matthew Lillard", was filmed through green glass, had Egyptian subtitles and starred the Swedish Bikini Team. Williams as a product is dead in the water. We're beginning to forget the tour de forces (Good Morning Vietnam, Good Will Hunting) and we're starting to remember the buckets of shit (Popeye, Toys) that he has continually foisted on an unsuspecting world.

The problem here is his Oscar. Dude did good in Good Will Hunting and deserved his prize, but just as John Hughes did with the success of Home Alone, he's let it change what he does. Just as Hughes forgot about teen angst and figured kiddie flicks were the future, so too has Williams forgotten how to be funny and decided to be America's hairy-armed answer to Tom Hanks. Williams needs to figure out what makes people like him. It's not his kinder gentler side. It's not his looks. It's not his abs. It's not his smile and those bar-brawl scars on his lips that show up when he tries to look sweet. No, what makes people like Robin Williams is Mork. Mork went a long way. Bicentennial Man goes nowhere. Really really fast.

Which brings us to reason number two this film will live on in infamy. It confirmed that Oliver Platt is a hack. We're not talking minor hack here, nor are we talking kinda hack, we're talking dead set hack-dog hackhackhack hacketty hack hack. Plattt was the shit not long ago. He was great in a series of indie flicks and really showed his talent in low budget comedies. A few years back, along with Stanley Tucci, Platt was one of the two better actors going around that had yet to be recognised by big money. Tucci has since stayed true to his path, been in some fantastic little films (and directed some) and you'd have to think he'll continue to do that. Platt went the other way. He cruised through Simon Birch like someone put downers in his donuts, he opened a can of ham on our ass in Bulworth with some of the worst overacting seen in a while, he went wacky in the abominable Lake Placid (though Bridget Fonda made him look like Olivier) and then there's Bicentennial Man. This film proves that Platt has a heavy mortgage. "We needy wacky, maybe fat, kinda hairy, a real loser, you know… a male scientist," said the producers. "Me do loser good" said Oli and promptly signed on.

Ain't it funny how male scientists are always one step up from monkey in Hollywood films? They're either humungous fat boys (Nutty Professor), white-haired nuts (Back To The Future) or slobs (Platt). However, if Hollywood has to portray a female scientist, they're supermodels. Weird, ain't it?

So what's the third thing about this film that will help it live on forever in infamy? No character in any movie will ever again attempt to rap a "comedy rap". That shit should have died with House Party 3.

To be fair, when the movie is almost over (and trust me, that's a long wait) it starts to finally get to the point of the whole thing, but in true Robin Williams style it all comes down to a simplistic court room scene and just barely scratches the surface of some complex matters. How a film can barely make an actual statement and still come over all preachy is beyond me, but I know people who listen to Christian rock who spend less time looking down on society than Robin Williams has in his last few films.

Bicentennial Man is awful. If you go see it, you are throwing away your money. You are keeping this heinous trend in motion pictures alive. You are part of the problem. If you must go see this thing, buy a ticket for something that deserves more respect, then walk into this. Just don't help it's box office.

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originally posted: 12/28/99 01:25:01
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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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