(Whoops, we almost forgot to acknowledge Boops here)
I’d rather die a man rather than live for an eternity as a machine.
– Robin Williams’ character Andrew Martin in the closing minutes of Bicentennial Man (1999)
As all but the schmucks know, the recent Tamil blockbuster Enthiran was a piece of shit badly regurgitated from a bunch of Hollywood films by a jackass director to entertain a few million hominoids.
And by God, it worked. Like gibbons in front of a banana bunch, the excited, gibbering hominoids lapped up Enthiran, Rajinikanth, Aishwarya Rai and all.
So today when a SI habitue suggested Bicentennial Man with sly hints of a connection to Enthiran, we quickly picked up the gauntlet. Plus, Bicentennial Man was easily accessible via Netflix Instant Play.
By Hollywood standards, Bicentennial Man is a long movie at 131-minutes.
Based on an Isaac Asimov short story, Bicentennial Man features Robin Williams in the central role of a freak robot that through a programming quirk is able to adapt and learn from its human owners.
As its title suggests,Bicentennial Man spans 200 years in the life of a robot who turns into a ‘human’ by the end of the movie.
In a metallic-looking robot suit and wide open eyes, Robin Williams does an okayish but not outstanding job within the bounds of a script that slowly slides from the pretty decent at the beginning to the pretty disappointing toward the end.
The last 30 or 40 minutes seemed as if director Chris Columbus was in fast-forward mode to hit the two-century mark that he couldn’t be bothered to keep up the class act.
We suddenly see flying cars, the lack of a build-up to the romance, the inadequate representations of the feelings of the robot as it slowly develops human-like qualities, emotions and appearance and, of course, the crude, crass ending.
The weakness of its script in the last 30 minutes or so notwithstanding, we’d still classify Bicentennial Man as a watchable film compared to the orgy of stupidity that Enthiran turned out to be.
Redeeming qualities in Bicentennial Man include, to repeat what we said earlier, a decent hour or so, okayish acting and lots of nice, witty lines in the film, almost all of it uttered through the mouth of the robot.
Like the time when once confronted with Little Miss’ young ill-behaving son Lloyd throwing sand on his book, Andrew (the robot) mutters:
One understands why some animals eat their young.
Or some 16 years later when referring to the now grownup Lloyd, he asks rhetorically:
Did he not breastfeed?
Or when he says after his first fart:
I’ll have to ask Rupert to make me a muffler.
But a few cute lines or a partially good movie that loses its moorings and goes adrift does not a great entertainer make.
Only leaves you sadly shaking your head in regret at the lost opportunity.
It was as if director Chris Columbus embarked upon a Forrest Gump of a robotic drama but abandoned the effort half-way leaving Bicentennial Man to meander to its ho-hum conclusion.