Archive for the ‘AI’ Category

108 – A.I.: Artificial Intelligence

March 16, 2002

Overlong and pretentious, this movie is a basic retelling of the classic Pinocchio story, set in the distant future. In this one, the “Pinocchio” is an advanced robot who looks and acts like a real boy. David (Haley Joel Osment) is the first of his robot line to have actual feelings, and naturally he runs into problems reconciling these emotions with his logical side.

David is purchased by the Swinton family as a sort-of replacement for their son, who lies in stasis, stricken by an incurable disease. Mr. Swinton (Sam Robards) buys David to help his wife deal with the stress of losing their son; but it’s kind of the same as buying a new puppy immediately after one’s dog has been killed. Monica Swinton (Frances O’Connor) doesn’t quite know what to make of the new addition to her family. She resents the intrusion, and doesn’t know how to treat David. Unlike traditional serving robots, David is designed to be a cute little kid, which means he doesn’t just sit back and wait for orders to be given; he’s supposed to be more interactive and proactive, learning as he goes.

David develops a real love for his adoptive mother. But when the younger Swinton actually is cured from his disease and returns home, things get very complicated. It’s soon clear that David’s days with the family are numbered. Monica knows that if David is returned to the manufacturer, he’ll be taken apart, and she’s also grown fond of the boy robot. She takes him to a huge forest where decommissioned androids and other robots wander, thinking he’ll be better off with those of his own kind. But David’s love for his mother outweighs all else, and through all of his adventures – in which he meets up with fellow robot Gigalo Joe (Jude Law), his one goal is to return to his beloved mommy. He is under the impression that he can somehow become a real boy, Monica will take him back and they can all live happily ever after.

If you’re in the mood for absurdist cinema, this is a treat. The special effects, which were nominated for an Oscar, really are good. But special effects aren’t as special as they used to be, now that most big-budget films have them in some way. True, the makeup (by past Oscar winner Rick Baker) and costumes are excellent, but the story and acting, sadly, are not.

Each scene elicits an “oh, come on” reaction, as it tries to top the previous scene. “Look at me! Look at me!” the scenes practically cry out. It’s a self-absorbed mess. The theme’s not a new one, but the makers of this piffle tried way too hard to make the story different from all of the other “I want to be a real boy” movies; there’s a fine line between quirky and unbelievable.

Yes, you should suspend your disbelief for this movie; you should suspend it, expel it, and forget you ever had it. There’s plenty that doesn’t make a bit of sense, and a really schmaltzy ending. It tries its damnednest to pluck at your heartstrings, playing out more like a cheesy disease-of-the-week TV movie than a serious, heartfelt film.

Osment’s not bad, under the circumstances. One great thing about playing a robot is that one can give a poor performance, and it’ll seem believable. There are also a few celebrity cameos that were completely unnecessary, although I won’t ruin their surprise by outing them here.

Most of the middle portion of this film (which clocks in at over two and a half hours) is deadeningly dull, and none of it was worth the megahype that DreamWorks mustered up for it. This is a good movie to leave on as you fall asleep.

A.I.: Artificial Intelligence: 4