Bicentennial Man (film)
|Directed by||Chris Columbus|
|Produced by||Chris Columbus
|Screenplay by||Nicholas Kazan|
The Bicentennial Man
by Isaac Asimov
|Music by||James Horner|
|Edited by||Neil Travis|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures
(USA & Canada)
Columbia TriStar Film Distributors International
|Country||United States / Canada|
|Box office||$87.4 million|
Bicentennial Man is a 1999 American science fiction comedy-drama film starring Robin Williams, Sam Neill, Embeth Davidtz (in a dual role), Wendy Crewson, and Oliver Platt. Based on the novel The Positronic Man, co-written by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg, which is itself based on Asimov's original novella titled The Bicentennial Man, the plot explores issues of humanity, slavery, prejudice, maturity, intellectual freedom, conformity, sex, love, and mortality. The film, a co-production between Touchstone Pictures and Columbia Pictures, was directed by Chris Columbus. The title comes from the main character existing to the age of two hundred years, and Asimov's novella was published in the year that the U.S. had its bicentennial.
The NDR series robot "Andrew" (Robin Williams) is introduced in 2005 into the Martin family home to perform housekeeping and maintenance duties. The family's reactions range from acceptance and curiosity, to outright rejection, and deliberate vandalism by their surly older daughter, Grace (Lindze Letherman), which leads to the discovery that Andrew can both identify emotions and reciprocate in kind. When Andrew accidentally breaks a figurine belonging to "Little Miss" Amanda (Hallie Kate Eisenberg), he carves a replacement out of wood. The family is astonished by this creativity and “Sir” Richard Martin (Sam Neill) takes Andrew to his manufacturer, to inquire if all the robots are like him. The CEO of the company sees this development as a problem and wishes to scrap Andrew. Angered, Martin takes Andrew home and allows him to pursue his own development, encouraging Andrew to educate himself in the humanities.
Years later, following an accident in which his thumb is accidentally cut off, Martin again takes Andrew to NorthAm Robotics for repairs, ensuring first that Andrew's personality will remain un-tampered with. Andrew requests that, while he is being repaired, his face be altered to convey the emotions he feels but cannot fully express. Andrew eventually asks for his freedom, much to Martin's dismay. He grants the request, but banishes Andrew so he can be 'completely' free. Andrew builds himself a home and lives alone. In 2048, Andrew sees Martin one last time on his deathbed. Martin apologizes for banishing him.
Andrew goes on a quest to locate more NDR series robots to discover if others have also developed sentience. After years of failure he finds Galatea (Kiersten Warren), an NDR robot that has been given feminine attributes and personality. These, however, are simply aspects of her programming and not something which she spontaneously developed. Galatea is owned by Rupert Burns (Oliver Platt), son of the original NDR robot designer. Burns works to create more human-looking robots, but is unable to attract funding. Andrew agrees to finance the research and the two join forces to revolutionize robotics. Andrew designs new prosthetic organs for the robots, which can also be used in humans. He maintains contact with Amanda, who grows up, marries, divorces and dies. Eventually, Andrew becomes human enough to fall in love with Amanda's granddaughter, Portia (both played by Embeth Davidtz) and, ultimately, she falls in love with him.
Over the course of the next century, Andrew uses his prosthetics in an attempt to turn himself into a human, complete with artificial skin, hair and a nervous system. He petitions the World Congress to recognize him as human, which would allow him and Portia to be legally married, but is rejected; the Speaker of the Congress explains that society can tolerate an everlasting machine, but argues that an immortal human would create too much jealousy and anger.
Andrew works with Burns to introduce blood into his system, thereby allowing him to age, and thus he begins to grow old alongside Portia. Andrew again attends the World Congress, now appearing old and frail, and again petitions to be declared a human being.
On his death bed, with Portia beside him, Andrew watches as the Speaker of the World Congress announces on television the court's decision: that Andrew Martin is officially recognized as human, and that aside from "Methuselah and other Biblical characters," is the oldest human being in history at the age of two-hundred years old. The Speaker also validates the marriage between Portia and Andrew. Andrew dies while listening to the broadcast, and Portia orders their nurse Galatea, a now recognizably-human android, to unplug her life support machine. The movie ends with Portia about to die hand-in-hand with Andrew, as she whispers to him "See you soon."
- Robin Williams as Andrew Martin, an NDR android servant of the Martin family that seeks to become human.
- Sam Neill as Richard "Sir" Martin, the patriarch of the Martin family.
- Embeth Davidtz as Amanda "Little Miss" Martin (adult)
- Davidtz also portrays Portia Charney, the daughter of Lloyd and the granddaughter of Amanda.
- Hallie Kate Eisenberg as Amanda "Little Miss" Martin (age 7)
- Wendy Crewson as Rachel "Ma´am" Martin, the matriarch of the Martin family.
- Oliver Platt as Rupert Burns, the son of the NDR creator that makes his androids look more human-like.
- Kiersten Warren as Galatea, the NDR android servant of Rupert.
- Stephen Root as Dennis Mansky
- Angela Landis as Grace "Miss" Martin (adult)
- Lindze Letherman as Grace "Miss" Martin (age 9)
- Bradley Whitford as Lloyd Charney (adult)
- Igor Hiller as Lloyd Charney (age 10)
- John Michael Higgins as Bill Feingold
- George D. Wallace as the first President/Speaker of the World Congress
- Lynne Thigpen as Marjorie Bota, the second President/Speaker of the World Congress
The film holds a 37% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes with 35 out of 93 critics giving it a positive review, with an average rating of 4.8 out of 10. Its consensus reads "Bicentennial Man is ruined by a bad script and ends up being dull and mawkish." The review aggregator Metacritic gives it a score of 42.
Roger Ebert gave it two out of four stars, saying, "Bicentennial Man begins with promise, proceeds in fits and starts, and finally sinks into a cornball drone of greeting-card sentiment. Robin Williams spends the first half of the film encased in a metallic robot suit, and when he emerges, the script turns robotic instead. What a letdown." William Arnold of Seattle Post-Intelligencer said the film "Becomes a somber, sentimental and rather profound romantic fantasy that is more true to the spirit of the Golden Age of science-fiction writing than possibly any other movie of the '90s." Todd McCarthy of Variety summed it up as "An ambitious tale handled in a dawdling, sentimental way".
- Academy Awards — Best Makeup (lost to Topsy-Turvy)
- Blockbuster Entertainment Award — Favorite Actor — Comedy (Robin Williams) (lost to Adam Sandler in Big Daddy)
- Blockbuster Entertainment Award — Favorite Actress — Comedy (Embeth Davidtz) (lost to Drew Barrymore in Never Been Kissed)
- Hollywood Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist Guild Award — Best Character Makeup — Feature (lost to Sleepy Hollow)
- Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards — Favorite Movie Actor (Robin Williams) (lost to Adam Sandler in Big Daddy)
- Razzie Award — Worst Actor (Robin Williams) (lost to Adam Sandler in Big Daddy)
- YoungStar Award — Best Young Actress/Performance in a Motion Picture Comedy (Hallie Kate Eisenberg) (lost to Natalie Portman in Where the Heart Is)
- Bicentennial Man Movie Reviews, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes
- Search Reviews, Articles, People, Trailers and more at Metacritic
- "Bicentennial Man :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews". Chicago Sun-Times. December 17, 1999.
- "Blockbuster Entertainment Award winners". Variety (magazine). May 9, 2000. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
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