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Bicentennial Man

4.6 out of 5 stars 698 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Bicentennial Man spans 200 years as it follows the life and times of Andrew (Williams), a robot purchased by a family as a household appliance programmed to perform menial tasks. As Andrew begins to experience emotions and creative thought the Martin family soon discovers they don't have an ordinary robot.

Bicentennial Man was stung at the 1999 box office, due no doubt in part to poor timing during a backlash against Robin Williams and his treacly performances in two other, then-recent releases, Jakob the Liar and Patch Adams. But this near-approximation of a science fiction epic, based on works by Isaac Asimov and directed, with uncharacteristic seriousness of purpose, by Chris Columbus (Mrs. Doubtfire), is much better than one would have known from the knee-jerk negativity and box-office indifference.

Williams plays Andrew, a robot programmed for domestic chores and sold to an upper-middle-class family, the Martins, in the year 2005. The family patriarch (Sam Neill) recognizes and encourages Andrew's uncommon characteristics, particularly his artistic streak, sensitivity to beauty, humor, and independence of spirit. In so doing, he sets Williams's tin man on a two-century journey to become more human than most human beings.

As adapted by screenwriter Nicholas Kazan, the movie's scale is novelistic, though Columbus isn't the man to embrace with Spielbergian confidence its sweeping possibilities. Instead, the Home Alone director shakes off his familiar tendencies to pander and matures, finally, as a captivating storyteller. But what really makes this film matter is its undercurrent of deep yearning, the passion of Andrew as a convert to the human race and his willingness to sacrifice all to give and take love. Williams rises to an atypical challenge here as a futuristic Everyman, relying, perhaps for the first time, on his considerable iconic value to make the point that becoming human means becoming more like Robin Williams. Nothing wrong with that. --Tom Keogh

Special Features

Production Featurette|Theatrical Trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Robin Williams, Oliver Platt, Sam Neill, Embeth Davidtz, Kiersten Warren
  • Directors: Chris Columbus
  • Writers: Nicholas Kazan
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: French
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Buena Vista Home Entertainment / Touchstone
  • DVD Release Date: June 13, 2000
  • Run Time: 131 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (698 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 630587493X
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,138 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Bicentennial Man" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
The first thing that struck me about this film was the fact that it wasn't funny. Sure it had its moments like other dramas, but being billed as a comedy, this was surprising. The second is that most children watching this film will be bored and confused with the subject matter. Although it is a clean family movie, the topics covered (i.e. euthanasia, discrimination, immortality, etc.) are most definitely adult.
I am glad it wasn't a simple comedy, as within I found a touching, human story about a robot's search for meaning and humanity. It is a remarkable film, with great acting by both Robin Williams and Sam Neil. This was combined with a great score and wonderful visuals. It truly is a great film.
In conclusion, if you're looking for the comedy from the trailer look elsewhere. If you're looking for a family movie which your younger kids can get into, look elsewhere. This is a thought provoking and touching drama which contemplates very complex issues in a highly entertaining manner. I loved this film and highly recommend it.
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Format: DVD
Based on the Isaac Asimov short story "The Bicentennial Man" which was later adapted by Robert Silverberg in "The Positronic Man," director Chris Columbus has managed to merge a powerful romantic epic with Asimov's intellectual story.
The story was written to celebrate the 1976 Bicentennial of the USA and Asimov's story told about a robot that strives to be human. While this is a very prevalent idea nowadays, i.e. Data on Star Trek, it was pretty original at that time.
Columbus shows wonderful respect for the source material, which he betters in every way. How often can you say that of a movie? Columbus understands that in the future everything will not be immediately different. The film portray this by slowly adding futuristic elements on top of real settings. In an era of CGI sets that don't look real, this sci-fi movie is all the better for it's matter of fact approach to the future.
The performances are uniformly great with Williams giving such a strong performance beneath the costume that when his face is revealed it is a little startling. He also injects a sense of humor that makes more powerful the romance and pathos of the plot.
This is a film that deserved better than it got. It is an epic, in the sense of Tolstoy and "Gone With the Wind", with a science fiction worldview.
In this film of a robot's search to become more human, we feel more strongly the precious gift of our own humanity. That is all we can ask of any work of art.
Comment 79 of 85 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: VHS Tape
I have just seen Bicentennial Man (on cable) for the second time. I loved it even more than my first time seeing it in the theater, because I knew the story in advance and could relax and look forward to it, without being overwhelmed by the wonderful special effects and little tidbits of wonderment that pervade the movie. Quite simply, Robin Williams portrays a robot who becomes human. But, it's so much deeper than that. I must say it is one of Robin's best works... and I've seen them all. It has his delightful comedy, but moreover, his perfect portrayal with pathos and beguiling charm. The movie begins with the robot (dubbed Andrew) being introduced to the family (with Sam Neill as the father). One of the little girls in the family makes a quick connection with the new robot (Williams), and they become fast friends... for life, as it turns out. As time goes by, Andrew (Williams) becomes more and more a member of the family. But, Andrew also becomes more human, and eventually goes to search for his identity, and to seek out others like him. The film moves rather quickly from one time period to another, since they have to cover Andrew's lifespan of two-hundred years (hence the title). Throughout his life, he is constantly evolving, whether mechanically, thru technological improvements, or just by learning human qualities. The thrust of it is that he eventually becomes human, but is not recognized as such until the end of his life. (There is a very moving speech he gives to some delegation who will decide if he is human or not.) It is a landmark film of human emotions and human joy, all experienced and displayed by a robot. It is not the comic fluff of some earlier Williams' films, nor the hardhitting drama of some of his others. Rather, it is the compelling joyousness and heartwarming comedy of a machine who wants to be human... played expertly by Williams, of course. I plan to watch it again, very soon. It is a great movie.
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Format: DVD
For years I have been a great fan of Issac Asmov. Without a doubt, Bicentennial Man was my favorite of his stories because, although most of Asmov's robot novels have a more intellectual ending, this one had more real depth and feeling than anything I have ever read from him. The movie expands on this in a profound way and extends Asmov's novelette into a full feature in a way I have seen few books rendered to film. Although I have seen some bad press on this movie, (notably Robert Ebert) DON'T believe it, my fiancee loved it so much she had to see her favorite parts again after it was over, and she is NOT a science fiction fan (of a fan of Asmov for that matter.) I have also heard that the humor was also rather dry, and I don't believe that this is true either. Although Robin Williams was not the zany character he usually is, many of his jokes were extremely funny. (Ex. A buddhist walks up to a hotdog vender and says, "make me one with everything.") I believe that the more subdued tone he played worked with the tone of the character. His usual antics would have looked inappropiate for a robot who was not supposed to have a personality at all. Over time, his character does learn to be more expressive, but never to the extreme extent of Williams in other movies (Ex. The Fisher King.), however, my fiancee said that William's concept of phyisical and emotional love was one of the most romantic things she had ever heard. Other comments aside, I believe this is one of the best films I have seen in months, and I would HIGHLY recommend it. The DVD is well done with an excellent transfer, good Dolby Digital effects, and it DOES have a trailer and movie featurette. (a previous review made on this BBS before the DVD was even released, says it did not.)
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