In a perfect world, I would have gotten sick with a stomach virus 45 minutes into this film, ran out of the theater, puked all over the place, and then proceeded to leave with a smile on my face. In that perfect world of puke and smiles, I would have told you how great this movie is; especially for a lighthearted comedy with "heart." I would have told you how everyone in the theater laughed until they cried, and how, in-between every chortle, a mammoth collective grin covered our mawkish faces. I would have probably mentioned how Robin Williams' android outfit restrained him into giving a good performance that didn't make him look like he was sniffing too much coke. I would also have brought up how, although generic, the family unit was rather convincing, and worked well together. Unfortunately, I didn't get sick 45 minutes into Bicentennial Man, and my stomach was able to make it through the remainder of the film's running time; another hour full of sickening, sugar-coated, artificial sentimentality that, by the end, had me wanting to puke.
The last half of the film switches gears from a family-friendly comedy to a nearly humorless, and totally inept, biography of an android in a crisis. Obviously, we are meant to feel sympathy, and a little guilt, over the disheartening "life and times" of this unfortunate android. With every twist of the plot, the film seems to nod its head at us, as if to say, "have you learned anything yet? Did we pull any heart-strings? Huh? Did we???"
The film falters when Williams the robot decides he wants "freedom"; which means nothing more than that he wants to officially be a part of the family he has worked for for years, rather than be their property. For reasons untold, this displeases his usually congenial master (Sam Neill), and the android is exiled from the family that he cherishes. The android builds a house for himself out on the beach, with the colossal amount of money he's made over the years from building clocks (don't ask), and then takes a couple of decades off to wander the earth and find a kindred spirit.
Of course, over the two-hundred years of android life that the film spans, we have to see Andrew's friends die, one after another, and watch Andrew mourn over each of them. We have to watch Andrew pleading that he is, indeed, a human ("I am not a machine"). We have to see Andrew fall in and out of love. And, when Columbus and Williams notice that this "comedy" hasn't had a laugh in nearly 40 minutes, we get to listen to Andrew the Android fart in Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. After 40 minutes of melodramatic sap, a digital fart is too little too late . . . even if it is in Dolby.
I'd give it 4 Juicy squirts out of a possible 10
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Copyright 2001 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved]