Review Date: June 29, 2001
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Steven Spielberg
Producers: Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy, Bonnie Curtis
Haley Joel Osment
I'm philosophizing out of my ass here, but I think that the power of this film, its greater strength, other than its engaging narrative and visual delights, is its capacity to harness that deep-rooted fear in all humans. That fear of being alone. That fear of not having anybody love you. That fear of not mattering in someone else's life. The journey of the robot-child in this film is the journey of which many of us are presently a part. Will we be happy in our lives? Will we be loved? Will our own love be returned by those whom we cherish? Questions that reside in our subconscious, and questions that have suddenly imprinted themselves in the mind of the robot-child in this film. And will his journey end on a happy note? A sad note? Well, being that this film is indeed a collaboration between one of the most optimistic moviemakers of our time, Steven Spielberg, and one of the most pessimistic in Stanley Kubrick, I'll let you figure that one out yourself. I will say this much though, I personally would've liked to have seen the movie end right after the robot-child went underwater in the heli-sub and hovered before the blue fairy (if you haven't seen the movie, this may not mean anything to you, but to all those who have, you know what I'm talking about). I would definitely have preferred that type of resolution to the film, but then again, I'm not necessarily the most "happy-go-lucky" person in the world. Also, I felt like the final 15-20 minutes of the film, ran it all a little longer than it needed to be.
Emotionally, this film also delivers with two of the three members of my own "movie watching crew" bawling their goggles out (sorry, I tinkered with my own tears, but didn't go balls-out on them). It's to note that this emotional touch could not have been attained as poignantly had it not been for the inspired thespianism (that a word?) displayed here by Haley Joel Osment, who has seriously impressed me at this point of his young career. A superb, loving, real performance which drives the film's significance that much deeper. Add Jude Law to that mix, as well as one of the coolest toys to ever have been invented named Teddy (give this damn bear his own movie!), and you've got a serious recipe for greatness. Yes, I thought the film was a little long, it didn't touch me as deeply as I thought it might and I would have preferred another ending, but those are all very small flaws in an overall sturdier picture that definitely needs to be considered for addition to the great sci-fi films from both Spielberg and Kubrick's pasts (it was also nice to see the many hommages which Spielberg tossed in here, including to his own E.T., CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, Lucas' STAR WARS and Kubrick's CLOCKWORK ORANGE). In the end, the film strives for so much more than most movies coming out these days, that you just can't help but sit up and take notice. And once you do sit up and pay attention, you will be enthralled by the imagination of it all, the strength of its narrative, its emotional spirit and its unique ability to combine great visuals, great acting and great insight into the human condition.