A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this film has some mild profanity and sexual references, including a "facts of life" discussion, Andrew's adaptation so that he can have sex (but not children), a post-sex conversation in bed, and one of the most romantic descriptions of the sex act ever written. There are also ill-behaved and surly children whose behavior is not curtailed by the family.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Set in the not too distant future, this adaptation of Isaac Asimov's story stars Robin Williams as Andrew, a robot in the Martins' fancy home. Although the family elects not to activate the "personality chip," they see that there is something special about Andrew's wiring, a spark of consciousness, creativity, and yearning. Mr. Martin (Sam Neill) promises to help Andrew become all that he can. This is fine when he is teaching Andrew about history, biology, and even humor, and when he wants to be adapted so that he can show more expression in his face, but less fine when Andrew wants freedom. And he is uncomfortable with his growing affection for Andrew: "You can't invest your feelings in a machine." Martin's understanding daughter, "Little Miss," (Embeth Daviditz) does not hesitate to care deeply for Andrew, and remains close to him all her life.
Is it any good?
Overall, BICENTENNIAL MAN is a sweet movie that gives families a good opportunity to talk about what makes us human. As Andrew lives on past the lives of his original family, he stays close to their descendants, especially "Little Miss's" look-alike granddaughter, Portia. He uses the latest technology to provide himself with skin, hair, a neural system, a digestive system, and finally, to become fully human, mortality. Just like Woody in Toy Story 2, Andrew has a choice between pristine immortality and a limited, uncertain, but deeply engaged existence.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what makes us human. Why did Andrew's makers want to remove what made him special? Why did Andrew want to find others like himself? What do you think made him different? When do you think he became human? When he created something? When he wanted freedom? When he felt love? When he allowed himself to grow old and die? Why did he stop referring to himself as "one?" Why didn't some people in the family like Andrew? Why didn't Andrew like Portia at first? Why did he want to be with her, when he didn't like her? Do you think that's what life will be like in the future? What would it be like to have a robot in our house?
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