Bicentennial Man Movie Review

Robin Williams wants -- and needs -- nothing more than to have his own The Truman Show -- a Hail Mary to ward off permanent stereotyping. Typecast as a goofy loudmouth in throwaway films ranging from Mrs. Doubtfire to Fathers' Day to Flubber, you have to look back all the way to The Fisher King in 1991 for his last great starring role.

Bicentennial Man aims to turn that all around by making Williams something we can relate to once again. Ironically, that's not as a human: It's as a robot.

As the robotic Andrew, Williams starts out his life in 2005 San Francisco as a run-of-the-mill android with an unexplained glitch that makes him able to experience emotions and gives him creativity. Andrew then embarks on a 200-year quest to discover the nature of humanity, absorbing lessons on art, freedom, love, and ultimately mortality. (In other words, the same problems Williams was dealing with in Mork & Mindy.)

It's an ambitious movie and it positively sprawls at close to 2 1/2 hours in length. Audiences expecting that Robin slapstick are going to be sorely mistaken. As a robot, Andrew's only laughs come from his unintentional mangling of jokes and turns of the phrase like "Swine Lake."

No, they're not exactly belly laughs. And while Bicentennial Man is indeed a thoughtful drama with excellent production values, it's clearly lacking in a number of subtle ways. Most annoying is the plastic utopia that the film-world becomes, complete with (of course) flying cars, metallic skyscrapers, and all-white hospital interiors. San Francisco, one of the most crowded cities in the country, appears to be an oasis -- everyone's apartment is enormous -- I wish! In 2205, I don't expect the world's foremost concern will be wrestling over the question, Are robots human?

But my main criticism of the film is that its protagonist is obviously not a robot but is actually Robin Williams. Jim Carrey convinced us that he was Truman Burbank, and he convinced me that he was Andy Kaufman, too. Robin Williams does not convince you that he is anything other than Robin Williams. It's just a milder version of himself. It's Dead Poets Society Robin.

Despite its flaws, Bicentennial Man is largely watchable, a reasonably good time. Just don't expect a life-altering experience to be had. But do expect to see Williams back to his old song and dance again next year.

Domo arigato.


Bicentennial Man Rating

" OK "

Rating: PG, 1999


More Robin Williams

Robin Williams Cremated, Ashes Scattered In San Francisco Bay

Robin Williams' final resting place will be very close to home. The legendary comedian was reportedly cremated and his ashes were scattered in the San...

David Letterman Opens Up About Longtime Friend Robin Williams' Suicide

David Letterman is no different to the many celebrities and stars who knew Robin Williams, he was extremely upset to hear the news of the...

Robin Williams LA Tribute Art Aims To Raise Awareness About Depression

A piece of graffiti art designed by a street artist in tribute to recently deceased comedian Robin Williams was spotted on a wall in Los...

Robin Williams Sent Video Message To Fan Suffering From Cancer

Robin Williams sent a moving video message to one of his fans who was terminally ill from cancer just a few months before he took...


Will Robin Williams Be Immortalised In A Zelda Game? Maybe

Robin Williams’ love for videogames has been well documented since the popular actor was found dead last week at his home near San Francisco after...

Robbin Williams: The Rocky Road To Mrs Doubtfire 2

When acting legend Robin Williams tragically passed away on 11 August, he left behind three adult children, a wife and a legion of fans heartbroken...

Oprah Winfrey Honours The Late Robin Williams On Her OWN Network

Oprah Winfrey's OWN network will join the many other television networks that are paying tribute to the late Robin Williams, two special from the cable...

Rob Schneider Points To Parkinson's Medication As Possible Cause Of Robin Williams Suicide

Days after the death of Robin Williams, the world and the entertainment industry in particular, are still reeling from the loss. As many focus the...