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Bicentennial man

Threat advisory: Severe - Severe risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

One robot's 200 year journey to become an ordinary man.

Set in the near future, the Martin family have their own android to perform menial tasks around the house. Andrew (Robin Williams) is a functional being only. No-one could have foreseen the specialness that Andrew develops through his association with humans, he begins to display emotions, individual creativity and curiosity about the intricacies of life - not exactly your typical android behaviour! In an hilarious and heart warming tale, Andrew and the Martin family all come to realise this android's unique destiny is to become human.

Persons of interest

  • Robin Williams .... Andrew
  • Sam Neill .... Sir
  • Embeth Davitz .... Little Miss, Portia
  • Allan Rich .... Sir
  • Wendy Crewson .... Ma'am
  • Oliver Platt .... Rupert Burns
  • Isaac Asimov .... Author: The bicentennial man
  • Robert Silverberg .... Author: The bicentennial man, The positronic man
  • Chris Columbus .... Director

Intelligence analyst

Secret Agent Acid Thunder

Theatrical report

When I am watching a film I usually looks for four things: story, actor/character relationship, progression and ending.

Not every film has, has to or ought to have a happy ending although most Hollywood flicks do this automatically - especially when there's an animal or a child involved. Now, I am not saying that happy endings are a bad thing, but at the end of the 20th century when you read a review that says, "And they all lived happily ever after..." you start thinking something like, "Here comes Lassie". These days happiness comes at a price.

On to the film. Andrew is a machine who is trying to become human. Trekkies will be familiar with this theme from the adventures of Data from The next generation and to a lesser extent Seven of nine from Voyager, although these examples are both actually extrapolations from The bicentennial man. But how does a robot develop the idea to become an individual without being programmed to do so? It's like Windows 98 deciding to turn itself off just because it feels like it (h minutes, maybe that wasn't the best example). This question (and many others) are what push the story along, the upshot of it all being that Andrew exchanges mechanical immortality for human mortality.

All of which raises another question in my rabid little mind: Why does Andrew have to be human? Why not a fruit bat or a dugong or a wombat or even, heaven forbid, remain an android? The answer is that people will never accept anything that they don't understand. What they don't understand, they fear. Fear of the unknown drives them to resist change despite the fact that the entire universe changes every microsecond. Bastards.

I spoke with Robin at a press conference held at the Westin Sydney Hotel, a hotel here in Sydney. Many people (all from the press so there's nothing nice to say about them) turned up for the free breakfast and star bashing. I am disgusted to say that each of the questioners was doing their best to knock Robin down (Tall Poppy Syndrome even applies to foreigners these days now that Jerry Seinfeld has gone home) and have their little piece of him. Fortunately Robin has faced up to bigger and meaner journos than Sydney could arrange and took it all in stride, turning it into more of a stand up routine than an interview.

Oh yeah, the film. The story is a classic of science fiction by one of its greatest exponents. Robin completely understands Andrew, bringing to the character all the charm and pathos that can fit inside a silver suit. It's the second best of Robin's films after Dead poets society and I want you all to see it. Ignore the propaganda on TV and radio and that, just go along to the video shop and get it.

Media intelligence (DVD)

  • Trailer: Theatrical
  • Jumanji promo
  • Hook promo
  • Behind-the-scenes and interview with Chris Columbus and Robin Williams
  • Filmographies: Sam Neill, Robin Williams and Chris Columbus

Security censorship classification

PG (Adult themes, low level coarse language)

Surveillance time

126 minutes (2:06 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

DVD rental: 7 June 2000

Cinema surveillance images

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