Bicentennial Man

Reviewed By Improv King
Posted 12/20/99 12:09:22

"Popcorn flick - nothing more, nothing less."
3 stars (Average)

Give the producers credit on this one: Bicentennial Man is very faithful to the details of both the original short story and the novel by Isaac Asimov. They even mention the Three Laws of Robotics! Of course, adapting the story is easy: it has a lot of sentimental moments, and the film hits every damn one of them. Really hard.

The plot? Pinocchio with a sci-fi twist: Robot Model NDR (nicknamed Andrew by the family), designed to be a simple household servant, shows signs of creativity and feelings, and spends the next two hundred years improving himself, figuring out what it means to be human. The passage of time is handled fairly well, except for a couple of titles that say "umpteen years later". The art direction and costuming is pretty good: it's a good mix of modernity and 80's futurism. And the robotic make-up is truly amazing: check out Andrew 2.0. Still, this movie is only average, as this is the billionth Hollywood movie that takes absolutely no risk with the material. Robin Williams does the same comic shtick he can do in his sleep. The emotional turmoil is standard pot-boiler fare. There's a sprinkling of dirty poo-poo-type jokes to keep the kids awake. AND EVERY SINGLE MOMENT WHERE THE FILM WANTS YOU TO CRY IS ACCOMPANIED BY AN ORCHESTRA PLAYING THIS FUCKING LOUD.

(On a tangential note, why is it necessary for loud violins in Hollywood movies? Do the film-makers think we are so stupid we won't know where to cry?)

Basically, this one's a rental. Watch it for the visuals, get a good night's entertainment. And reach for the mute button if someone onscreen begins to cry.

© Copyright HBS Entertainment, Inc.