Mixed or average reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 31
  2. Negative: 10 out of 31
Watch On
  1. Finally becomes a somber, sentimental and rather profound romantic fantasy that is more true to the spirit of the Golden Age of science-fiction writing than possibly any other movie of the '90s.
  2. Reviewed by: Tom Keogh
    Captivating an audience from the get-go and drawing our attention and emotions ever deeper into the layered mysteries of a dreamy fable.
  3. 67
    More a meditation on the nature of life itself than anything else, and a welcome respite from Robin Williams, the emotion sponge.
  4. May wrestle with big ideas, but it does so through a succession of small emotional moments.
  5. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    Few actors apart from Williams could bring it off.
  6. A fragmented, episodic feel and a conclusion that seems both remote and remote-controlled.
  7. 63
    Entertains but never quite engages.
  8. Reviewed by: Bill McLochlin
    Though Williams gives one of his better performances in recent years -- finding the right combination of humor and restraint for this role -- none of the human characters are fleshed out in any way.
  9. A mainstream holiday movie, complete with stupendous special effects, amazing make-up artistry and sumptuous production design.
  10. 50
    The sad fact is Williams is at his best while trapped in Andrew's original sleek form. His performance is subtle, his reactions restrained. The more Robin is exposed, the more ham is served.
  11. Reinforcing the chasm between movie magic and wishful thinking.
  12. Has heart, but lacks bite.
  13. Has a certain slow, mechanical quality.
  14. 50
    The once-funny Robin Williams is still stuck in his excruciating touchy-feely mode.
  15. Kids may yawn at the movie's dawdling pace.
  16. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Columbus' approach is intended to cloak such topics as mortality and human identity in the warm glow of greeting card sentiment, which renders the prescription palatable for mass consumption but hopelessly diluted.
  17. 50
    Begins with promise, proceeds in fits and starts, and finally sinks into a cornball drone of greeting-card sentiment.
  18. Except for Williams, the sitcom-meets-sci-fi acting throughout the movie is strictly of television caliber.
  19. Director Chris Columbus...seals this comedy in an impenetrable bubble of hollow humanism.
  20. 40
    The childish humor and sensationalistic effects undercut the movie's philosophical agenda.
  21. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    The play for the heartstrings is so cold and calculated that the movie's sentimentality feels as synthetic as its hero, and the philosophy is simpleminded and lazy.
  22. I'll be darned if I can think of a more excruciating, ponderous, remarkably unfunny and inert cinemagoing experience to come down the pike in ages.
  23. Reviewed by: Cody Clark
    This saga of one robot's determined quest to become human is so coldly calculated it could give you frostbite.
  24. 33
    You're likelier to shrink in astonished horror from it than laugh.
  25. 30
    Amid the complacent a bizarre reactionary bent.
  26. A cold, protracted and unemotional affair.
  27. 30
    It's not really a kids' film, nor it is particularly funny, by either design or execution. It is, rather, Columbus' latest attempt at a comically tinged tearjerker.
  28. Reviewed by: Nicole Campos
    With this desperately eager-to-please fable based on a short story and novel by Isaac Asimov, director Chris Columbus clinches his berth as the master of shiny-happy message movies.
  29. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    The tone is cloying, the running time bloated.
  30. Must be among the most blatantly manipulative movies ever made. It's cold, calculated and treats its audience like its robotic central character.
  31. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    Kids will be bored, the rest of us baffled.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 49 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 15
  2. Negative: 2 out of 15
  1. JonR
    Jun 9, 2008
    This movie made me think how life should be much more appreciated than it already is. Probably one of the most emotional films I have seen.
  2. ALF
    Sep 25, 2011
    This film exemplifies just how pointless professional film critics are. As soon as I see a negative review by Roger Ebert I know I will reallyThis film exemplifies just how pointless professional film critics are. As soon as I see a negative review by Roger Ebert I know I will really like the film. I concluded this is because firstly, I see the film, secondly I have an open-mind before seeing it and do not suffer from the crass "look at me" approach of most film critics. This film is a wonderful story really well told. A robot who through a fault, fate whatever aspires to be more than it is (a trait film critics could learn other than being failed writers). It is a film no matter how often I see it, never fails to leave me feeling entertained and fully engaged. It has the right mix of humour, story telling and a poignant ending which it only takes two brain cells to rub together to understand. Clearly to many film and television critics have nothing to rub together :). This was (1999) and is a rarity these days, a film which you can sit the whole family in front of, from toddlers to your 90 year old grandparents and know they will not need to reach for earmuffs, hide under the settee or pray for a rapid one way trip to the next life. I could not recommend this film highly enough for family entertainment. As JonR rightly says an emotional film, which at the end of the day is surely what the world of film is about, an emotional connection. Perhaps film critics need to learn this. Robin Williams excellent. One of his best roles. Embeth Davidtz also excellent. Sam Neil - also excellent. The rest of the cast were excellent to. Special FX to enhance, not dominate. Good pace and a decent length unlike the usual cheap 80 to 90 minute dross we normally get. Script is a good adaptation of Asimov who is one of my favourite authors. Having read the film reviews by so many supposedly professional critics, I must thank most of you for increasing my already deeply rooted levels of contempt for your "industry." An industry which seems to be one composed of literary hacks and failures and produce nothing but spite. If any of you had any balls you would create. Full Review »
  3. Jun 18, 2013
    Robin Williams begins the film of Bicentennial Man in a mechanical suit, he is a robot, or 'household appliance' who is found to have feelingsRobin Williams begins the film of Bicentennial Man in a mechanical suit, he is a robot, or 'household appliance' who is found to have feelings and reactions similar to human beings. Unfortunately he doesn't stay in the suit for the entire film, not to take away anything from the remarkable talent and personal admiration of Williams, but a lacklustre and bland second half will have you counting the minutes until the end. A running start, but an egg and spoon finish.
    The script is filled with emotional appearance from start to finish, but its time frame fast forwards so unpredictably that it can be difficult to feel any sort of attachment to anyone but Andrew, the robot purchased by Richard Martin, or 'Sir', (played by Sam Neill) who quickly realises that his robot may do more than the standard model.
    Andrew begins to immediately bond with the his masters children, and as the years go on and Andrew's talent for carpentry and other things have made him quite a rich man.
    But the more he understands humans and the more he reads, he knows the demeanour of freedom, and wants to become his own man.
    Where the film starts to lose its feet is when it starts fast-forwarding, because for a film spanning 200 years it moves at quite a fast pace. Andrew deals with death, others growing up around him and is unable to convey emotions to these changes, but the film is perhaps to polite for its own good in these situations, with a calm and mellow score throughout the film, there is no sense of despair or sadness, but always a sense of epic romanticism and heightening shows of this is how the world should be, but it isn't.
    Robin Williams and Embeth Davidtz are the leading people in the film, Davidtz playing two people in terms of generation. Williams, while in the suit and a few times outside of it, is an ideal and welcome choice for the role, but he seems to be held back quite often and although he is playing a robot, the lack of emotional depth can be blamed on a script which never digresses or takes a new path, it perhaps should have listened to its own words,"sometimes it's important to do the wrong thing".
    There are laughs to be had and some of the script is quite funny, particularly the earlier parts of Andrew getting to know the ways of human behaviour,but a slow and messy second half have held the film back from being as good as the opening 45 minutes suggested, but there are definitely lessons to be learnt and teachings to follow from this very quotable film, which explains human behaviour at its very core.
    Full Review »