As the 20th century came to a close and Y2K approached, a growing number of films come to grips with the implications of technology in our every day lives. Having actually discovered the risks of bringing dinosaurs back to life in “Jurassic Park,” Sam Neill discovered that owning your own robotic isn’t all it’s split up to be in 1999’s “Bicentennial Male.”
Directed by Chris Columbus, it casts Neill as Richard Martin, who brings house a brand name new NDR-114 robotic to help out around your house. The android, known as Andrew (Robin Williams), takes a preference to the Martin household, especially “Little Miss” Amanda (played as a kid by Hallie Eisenberg and as an adult by Embeth Davidtz). Andrew slowly starts to establish thoughts and feelings, and soon tries to buy his freedom from Mr. Martin, who madly banishes him from their home. Years pass, and Andrew falls in love with Amanda’s granddaughter, Portia (played again by Davidtz).
Hopes were high for the movie, which was adapted from a narrative by Isaac Asimov and an unique by Asimov and Robert Silverberg. But as Roger Ebert summed up, “‘Bicentennial Guy’ begins with pledge, continues in fits and begins, and lastly sinks into a cornball drone of greeting-card sentiment.” The majority of evaluations were simply as negative. Todd McCarthy of Range called it “an enthusiastic tale handled in a dawdling, sentimental method.” In spite of its rotten reception, the film did earn an Oscar nomination for its makeup, which changed Williams into a living device.