I heard recently that Haley Joel Osment is a weed dealer now. I mean, when he’s not busy doing Broadway plays with John Leguizamo and Cedric the Entertainer. Is that true? Because I don’t really smoke, but I would pay extra to buy weed from Haley Joel Osment. That guy, living the dream. Do you think Dakota Fanning ever looks at the career of Haley Joel Osment and shits her pants? Look at how things turned out for him, and he never even starred in “The Haley Joel Osment Rape Movie” to try and gain legitimacy as an actor. They’re like two ‘s in a pod.
Oh, right, A.I.
A.I. takes place in the near future, and is about a little boy robot who is programmed to love. His mom/owner is this lady whose real son is sick and so her husband buys her a robot son to keep her company because he’s ALL HEART. At first she doesn’t know if she likes this robot, but then she decides to like him for no reason, so she “imprints” him, which means that for all of eternity he will love her and she will be his sweet mommy bear. Then one day her real son gets better and comes home and he hates the robot. The husband also hates the robot even though he bought him. Eventually, they decide to send the robot back to CyberCorp to be destroyed, but the mom doesn’t have the heart to do it so she takes the robot out into the woods and leaves him there, because of how thoughtful she is. Then the little boy robot meets a Jude Law sex robot, and they go looking for the Blue Fairy from Pinocchio because otherwise you might forget how heavy-handed this movie uses Pinocchio as a reference. Eventually, the little boy robot and the Jude Law robot visit the abandoned city of Man-hat-tan, which, despite being abandoned and almost completely underwater, also happens to be where the creator of the little boy robot is just hanging out in his oak-paneled office. Sweet! He tells the little boy robot that he’s really special, but then the little boy robot sees other little boy robots and realizes he’s just a robot and tries to commit robot suicide. Then he drives a policemobile into the ocean and gets trapped at Coney Island and 2000 years later future space alien robots save him from the ice and use some hair to bring his mommy back for one day because this whole thing is fucking ridiculous.
First of all, for a movie that presents itself as a rumination on the meaning of love, there’s a lot of tonal confusion here. Like, the first 45 minutes of the movie in which the mom is getting used to having this robot boy in the house are actually really creepy and weird. One friend who watched the first part of the movie with me and then left for awhile, came back much later during David’s adventures and was confused that he was the hero because she was convinced during the opening act that he was a monster. And then there’s the moment when the mom “falls in love” with the little boy:
I know that love doesn’t really happen in one instance, and that it’s the burden of the filmmaker to try and depict that gentle shift, but really, Spielberg? This is what did it for her? A terrifying nightmare cackle? Because if I was living in the near future and I bought a robot boy to try and stifle the unbearable loss of having a sick child in the hospital and this happened, I would run that robot boy through the robot garbage disposal.
Not that the creepiness and unease of the opening act doesn’t make sense. I will allow that Spielberg is trying to make it believable that a human being even COULD love a robot like her own child in the first place, which is a stretch, and which would require the mom to get over the initial creepiness of having a dependent machine silently scurrying around the house. The CLINK CLANK of little feet. But that gets to one of the deeper problems at the heart of this movie: WHAT THE FUCK DOES SPIELBERG THINK LOVE IS, ANYWAY?
I don’t have any children of my own, but I feel like I kind of get the gist. What I mean is that love between a parent and a child is a little more complicated than tucking him in and telling him that you love him a hundred times a day. For example, it would be nice to one day be able to have a conversation that was more complicated than “mommy, you’re the prettiest, i ate some crayons.” It’s weird that this is never even addressed in the movie. The mom gets rid of him because she thinks he’s dangerous, but wouldn’t she get rid of him eventually anyway just because he’s so annoying? So Haley Joel Osment is stuck forever with this infantile concept of love, but as the hero of the movie he also forces us to accept an infantile concept of love, and the problem for us is that we are NOT BABY ROBOT BOYS PROGRAMMED TO BE STUPID. So who cares that he’s a machine programmed to be a sad crybaby? All crybabies are sad, even human crybabies, that doesn’t make them right.
The legend behind the movie, of course, is that it was developed for almost 20 years by Stanley Kubrick before Spielberg took over, which angers many Kubrick fans who think his vision was trampled. Whatever. I mean, that ship has sailed (to heaven). Not that there aren’t some truly horrific Spielbergian flourishes, like when the robot boy tries to commit suicide by plunging off of the CyberTronics building into the floodwaters of New York, only to be saved by a swirling school of fish. And there is a moment when you think the movie is over, with Haley Joel Osment trapped at the bottom of the ocean, staring at a statue of the Blue Fairy, which would be kind of nice and appropriately dark; the idea that we’re all searching for something that doesn’t exist and will never exist no matter how long we try, and that’s that. But instead, of course, in come the future space alien robot survivors of the Great Frost or whatever and another 25 of the most frustratingly saccharine but also retarded minutes in any movie ever, with some kind of pseudo-reincarnation slash mind-meld thing that I’m not even going to go into, and the robot boy’s one dream fulfilled which is living for a whole day with only his mommy and no one else around to take away her attention. It’s weird, and it is simple-minded, and it is intensely Oedipal. You know that old story about how robot boys want to use their laser eyes to murder their male owners and sleep/standby with their mommy owners? Classic.
There are lesser problems, too, of course, like the robots have to obey orders but sometimes they don’t have to obey orders when the story requires. Or, for example, the fact that this movie takes place after an environmental disaster that destroys all of the world’s shoreline cities and results in a crisis in which parents are only allotted a certain number of children in order to keep the population under control and not overwhelm the world’s threatened resources, and yet the parents HAVE A SWIMMING POOL. Then again, it’s about a baby robot boy who is love incarnate and survives 2,000 years under the Coney Island Ferris Wheel so that robot alien mind readers can bring his mom back from the dead using a lock of hair, hidden in a walking teddy bear with the voice of a 65 year old man, for one day to make him a cake, so the personal swimming pool in a world on the brink is probably the least of this movie’s problems logically.
This is a major budget Hollywood movie, so there are a couple of good moments. Like this is great:
And this is also funny.
The worst thing about this movie, though, is the fact that it’s not even the worst movie Spielberg has made. That, of course, would be The Terminal. “What’s in the can?” “It’s jazz.” “Is there also a bullet in there, so that I can shoot myself in the fucking face?”