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:


FINISH YOURSELF!

And this is also funny.

“I’m so happy you are in my Entourage, Turtlebot.”

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?”

Next week: Simone. As always, please leave your suggestions in the comments or in an email. And if you haven’t done so already, please consult the Official Rules.

Comments (144)
  1. So at this point I have realized that you have a running list of movies to review for WMOAT, but I still need to stand by my nomination of The Last Kiss. I just feel that strongly about it.

    I agree with most of what you said in this installment of WMOAT. Why are movies with precocious child actors invariably The Worst?

  2. Ross  |   Posted on Feb 9th, 2009 +1

    Blue Fairy? Please… please, please make me into a real live boy. Please… Blue Fairy? Please… please… make me real. Blue Fairy? Please, please make me real. Please make me a real boy. Please, Blue Fairy, make me into a real boy. Please…Blue Fairy? Please… please, please make me into a real live boy. Blue Fairy? Please… please… make me real. Blue Fairy? Please, please make me real. Please make me a real boy. Please, Blue Fairy, make me into a real boy. Please… Please, Blue Fairy, make me into a real boy. Please…Blue Fairy? Please… please, please make me into a real live boy. Blue Fairy? Please… please… make me real. Blue Fairy? Please, please make me real. Please make me a real boy. Please, Blue Fairy, make me into a real boy. Please…

    I swear… i would have welcomed a bullet in my face at that point, if one were offered.

  3. I think Bicentenial Man is also on your list, right? But don’t you think it will be a tad redundant, or it is just an extension of your vendetta against Robin Williams?

  4. A.I. is Armond “Abortionhorny” White’s favorite film (according to his vote in the last Sight & Sound poll from 2002). I don’t think it’s a bad movie at all, but that’s just crazy.

  5. kat  |   Posted on Feb 9th, 2009 +5

    A Walk to Remember

  6. A.I., Simone and Bicentenial Man all get nominated for worst movie ever rankings . . . this should tell Hollywood something.

  7. “Jude Law sex robot”

    You mean Jude Law?

  8. Julie  |   Posted on Feb 9th, 2009 +2

    THE LAST KISS.

  9. kat  |   Posted on Feb 9th, 2009 +1

    You should check out ‘firewall.’ My least favorite movie.

  10. Zack  |   Posted on Feb 9th, 2009 +7

    I kinda dig this flick but I’m gonna play devil’s advocate and say the movie would have been better if Spielberg _didn’t_ stick so closely to Kubrick’s vision. There’s a reason it remained unmade for twenty years, Kubrick couldn’t get it to work! That’s right, it’s Kubrick’s fault! Suck it, Kubrick lovers.

    Also, Teddy ruled. I still want one.

  11. Eric  |   Posted on Feb 9th, 2009 +1

    AI wasn’t that bad. It was bad…but not that bad.

    Am I the only one who liked ‘The Terminal’? Seriously.

    • I liked it. I mean, it was sappy implausible middle America feel-good tripe, but sometimes those are enjoyable if you just give in to its reality. Tom was very likable, and I enjoyed seeing how he adapted to living in the airport. I dissent, Gabe!

  12. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • vespajason  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2009 +1

      Death Proof is wonderful. I love it, I love it, if only for the last three or so seconds. All of the action is great, and the cast is fun to watch. The soundtrack is killer. Do you hate it because people are talking?

  13. How is it that no one has nominated the steaming pile of cinematic wretchedness that is 1996′s Before and After? Meryl Streep, Liam Neeson, same screenwriter as Silence of the Lambs, decent budget, and somehow they managed to make the Worst Movie Ever. The best thing in the whole movie is that the car, which is stuck in the snow at the scene of the murder (or is it!?!?) magically unsticks itself and makes it home with a backseat full of bloody evidence *all by itself*. And apparently this is not intended to be at all mysterious, because it is simply never mentioned. That was the *best* part.

  14. an old broken down peice of Steve Irwin  |   Posted on Feb 9th, 2009 +5

    BALLISTIC: ECKS VS SEVER!

  15. Evan  |   Posted on Feb 9th, 2009 +4

    Not gonna lie, I cried at the end of this movie.

  16. rocko  |   Posted on Feb 9th, 2009 -36

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  17. Krista  |   Posted on Feb 9th, 2009 +3

    Teddy was the poo, I don’t care what anyone says. His voice was creepy but other than that he was the toy I always wished I had.

  18. Deedee  |   Posted on Feb 9th, 2009 +10

    Could I suggest “Because I Said So”?

  19. This review was worth waiting for. So many “WTF?” moments to cherish! Plus a cameo from the band Ministry!

  20. Mantasim  |   Posted on Feb 9th, 2009 +12

    “Love is a Jude Law sex robot”
    – Steven Spielberg

  21. seth  |   Posted on Feb 9th, 2009 +5

    do you need someone to nominate The Terminal? because I will.

    I fucking hated that movie.

  22. seth  |   Posted on Feb 9th, 2009 -19

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  23. What really bothers me about “AI” is that there is not a single scene shot from the robot-boy’s point of view, which is how director’s typically clue the audience in on the fact that a character is sentient (or a serial killer, but it’s sentience that’s relevant in this case). Not knowing whether the robot-boy was actually conscious, I couldn’t must any sympathy for him whatsoever. So what that he spends 2000 years at the bottom of the ocean? So what that he “misses” (i.e., robot-misses) his mommy? You might as well ask me to feel sympathy for my ice-maker when the water input malfunctions.

    • That is a really astute observation…Spielberg banks on an audience’s basic conditioning as moviegoers to feel sympathy for a traditionally sympathetic subject: a kid, a cute kid, a cute kid who just wants to be loved and accepted. What the sympathetic audience responds to is not in any way related to the underlying themes of the film–the implications of technology intersecting with corporeal existences and emotions–but rather the easily accessible themes of love and loss. In that respect, this could be any vaguely Dickensian movie and is not essentially special. You’re right though, once we get past the fact that it’s Haley Joel Osment, we realize that it’s really just a robot that’s been programmed to “love” (and not to be all grad-student-y, but: the “simulacrum” of love). HJO is really just a Furby: we get attached to it because it’s adorable and has the appearance of adopting increasingly human traits, but it’s an intensely artificial adaptation and has limits. I think the reason why Bicentennial Man can be considered a better film than A.I. is because it creates a protagonist on the basis of humanity, or at least the exponential approach to a human nature. A.I. asks you to relate as a human to a protagonist that never really approaches anything more than the image of humanity.

      But, JUST FOR THE SAKE OF ARGUMENT, maybe that is where A.I. succeeds, subtly: the real point is not about HJO’s progression into humanity, but rather our almost automatic recourse of loving lovable things, such as robots who are cute and responsive. In the end, does our willingness to accept the inhuman as a proxy for human make us, in a way, less human? Are we the real “artificial,’ programmed and conditioned beings?

      Honestly, I think saying this is the ultimate goal of A.I. is giving Spielberg way too much credit. I think A.I. exists more out of a temporal fascination for technology, CGI, and precious child actors (Bicentennial Man employs all of these elements as well and was made only, what, 2 years before?). But I think there are equally valid ways of suggesting A.I. is either a success or a failure. On a more superficial level, I agree it’s obnoxious enough in a lot of ways, outlined by Gabe, to be considered bad, maybe even one of The Worst.

      (Ughh sorry for the Russian novel, guys.)

      • I think the idea is more that as he becomes programmed to loved he grows beyond the love he was simply programmed for and feels something more. Also having to deal with his own insignificance in the scene where he smashes all his twins is pretty intense. I wouldn’t even call this movie bad. It is actually a very intersting film that evokes discussion and is done by a master craftsman.

        The fact that none of the Star Wars (prequel or not) have been touched is really the most glaring mistake here. I mean now that big-budget sci-fi is open game it’s like you opened Pandora’s Box.

      • Are those luxemburgerlies? I fucking love those things!

      • Pedro Smith  |   Posted on Feb 25th, 2009 +2

        People judge the weirdness of this movie as flaws, as if the director was not able to make the character likeable, and the story coherent. I mean, this movie realy takes you out of your confort zone because there isn’t a single character to wich you can relate, and having the creepy kid carry the story makes everything even more alienating and weird, so when for a brief period in the movie Jude Law, Kid and bear are alone at night in the forest it gives you this emotional retreat and friendship feeling ,that feel good moment that you’ve been needing, and you realize it’s the one thing you are rooting for is this companionship, eventhough it is a fragile and probably ephemeral one. It’s this lonely ride through a weird world, with nothing to hold on to, and the scenes and backgrounds and all the images work to convey that, even at the end you’re not given an anchor in the usual moral ending kind of story with the blue fairy underwater, it makes you feel how unlogic his existence is, that after that he is still there and other things happen that can even shatter the experiences and memory of his mother. And this kind of feeling is something you usualy only have a taste in movies like “Pinochio”, “Scizor Hands”, “An American Tale”, because their important to to value the journey back to safety and justice, moral and family values. But this one just goes all out on making people feel lost in a fantasy apocaliptical wonderland.

      • Mark Borok  |   Posted on May 11th, 2009 0

        I thought that was what worked in the film; the robots were never anything more than machines, but there was something noble in their being what they were, and doing exactly what they were designed to do (and being distrusted and hated for it). I never once forgot that they were things without real emotions, and yet I somehow cared about them.

    • goddamn, dude, you’re heartless! you don’t feel pity for your ice maker?!

    • filmoerotic  |   Posted on Apr 1st, 2009 0

      The fact that you feel like you need to be “clued in” to what is essentially the core ambiguity addressed by the film, with a hackneyed POV shot no less, just makes me glad that Spielberg is making movies and you’re sitting in a studio apartment commenting on someone else’s blog.

  24. H.J. Osmentia is in fact a peddler of the grass. Ask any NYU idiot. He also parties like a Rock Star at Fat Cats on Christopher Street a lot.

    Anne Hatahway used to deal at Vassar too. It’s a right of passage or something.

    Is that the Captain from Gossip Girl sans pencil mustache?

  25. Has Teeth been nominated yet? If not it should be, as long as that guy from Nip/Tuck counts as a B List star. The worst part about Teeth is that if it was directed as a comedy by John Waters it would be fucking amazing, yet instead we get the most oblique metaphor ever.

    • No. You are wrong. Sorry.

    • Erin  |   Posted on Feb 10th, 2009 +4

      I hate to inform you that Teeth was the greatest. Making it overly campy would detract from how the main character is living every girl’s dream.

    • rauldaul  |   Posted on Feb 10th, 2009 +3

      Teeth was indeed bad and couldve been much better if they fixed the tone. It didnt know what it wanted to be. Had too many flashes of humor then drama for it to really work. But i guess a movie about teeth in a vagina can never get too serious. I propose a sequel where it gets braces

  26. chichi  |   Posted on Feb 9th, 2009 -2

    MARGOT AT THE WEDDING:
    upper-middle class white angst
    jack black “acting” but not really
    crazy rednecks that we are supposed to hate but are actually the coolest part of the movie because they bite the main character’s son/daughter
    gender ambiguous son/daugher
    kids having conversations about sex that are supposed to be realistic but IN NO WAY REPRESENT REAL LIFE

  27. Eric  |   Posted on Feb 9th, 2009 -6

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  28. Ok, I nominate Freeway with Reese Witherspoon,

    Man was that horseshit

  29. sarah  |   Posted on Feb 9th, 2009 -10

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  30. Seth  |   Posted on Feb 9th, 2009 -1

    I’ve already nominated Original Sin, and I stand by that nomination, but I’d also like to put Mister Lonely up for consideration.

  31. meredith  |   Posted on Feb 9th, 2009 +7

    The Sex and the City Movie. Please.

    I’m even kind of a fan of the show. But really, worst movie ever.

  32. Yeah  |   Posted on Feb 9th, 2009 +7

    I feel very strongly about this:
    Any movie that starts out as one genre and then decides to pull all its loose threads together with ALIENS as a plot device is going to be terrible. “Aliens did it” is not an acceptable answer to ANYTHING. This was a movie about robots. That’s ENOUGH. Indiana Jones was an action adventure series. That’s ENOUGH. Sorry if I just burned your eyes out with all that knowledge.

    • Gibran  |   Posted on Feb 9th, 2009 +2

      I agree completely, but in this case of this movie the “aliens” were supposed to be super advanced robots 2000 years in the future. It’s confusing and unnecessary.

  33. The PP P-P  |   Posted on Feb 9th, 2009 +3

    You really need to check out “The Sweetest Thing”, but if (when?) you do be sure to get the unrated extended DVD. Granted, the theatrical version still had Selma Blair engaging in semi public sex with a guy in a purple elephant costume, but the unrated cut has the deleted musical number which features the line “My body is a movie and your penis is the star.”

    • mighty undies  |   Posted on Feb 15th, 2009 0

      “Selma Blair engaging in semi public sex with a guy in a purple elephant costume”

      how is that NOT amazing?

  34. Little Nicky. It’s so horrible it made Michael J. Nelson (of MST3K fame) pray that the world would reverse itself to negate it’s existence.I think we could all join him in that sentiment. http://www.cracked.com/article_15047_inoperable-humor-5-worst-comedies-all-time.html

  35. shermash  |   Posted on Feb 9th, 2009 +2

    First of all, I appreciate this review more than you know, because now my boyfriend will truly see what “AI” was like for me.

    Also, I second “Because I Said So” – before I saw it, I didn’t think it was possible for EVERY character in a movie to be fantastically annoying. But it is.

  36. K's  |   Posted on Feb 9th, 2009 +1

    I didn’ think it was this bad, but it did piss me off. Spielberg makes family movies, Kubrick most certainly did not. So basically what would have been a great Kubrick movie gets this weird family friendly spin on it and ends up sucking. I appreciate it for what appears to be what Kubrick intended, but get frustrated by what Spielberg made it.

    • Biff Bronson  |   Posted on Feb 10th, 2009 +2

      It’s an incorrect movie urban legend that Spielberg tacked on a happy ending to Kubrick’s original vision. Taschen’s amazing book “The Stanley Kubrick Archives” confirms with Kubrick’s production notes and drawings that the filmed ending was actually Kubrick’s all along. So, unfortunately Spielberg gets an undeserved bad rap for that. But he totally deserves the bad rap for this movie being a turd.

  37. shampion  |   Posted on Feb 9th, 2009 -11

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  38. courtney  |   Posted on Feb 9th, 2009 -7

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  39. kevin  |   Posted on Feb 10th, 2009 -3

    Do Moulin Rouge, please. The editing is horrifying. Nicole Kidman’s neat little death elicits zero sympathy. John Leguizamo plays one of the most obnoxious characters ever seen on-screen. The musical numbers are, for the most part, cringe-inducing, especially when they’re pitching their awful musical to the duke, who’s maybe the second most obnoxious character ever.

  40. edc  |   Posted on Feb 10th, 2009 +4

    for years dumbasses have gotten it wrong. those WEREN’T ALIENS. THEY WERE ROBOTS.

    • erik  |   Posted on Feb 10th, 2009 +3

      you’re right, edc. when you first see david, he is shot to look like one of the 5000 AD robots i.e. connects the technology used to build david with the technology used to build them. the logo of the company that built david also looks like the 5000 AD robots. btw, i love this movie. the discordancy of tone i actually really like. incidentally, A.O. Scott (NYT film critic) said this was the best film of the early 2000s. i sort of agree.

  41. H.F.G.  |   Posted on Feb 10th, 2009 +3

    I cannot WAIT for next Monday. I have stated here before my seething hate for that movie. I borrowed Simone from someone but didn’t get around to seeing it until after me and the friend lost touch. I’m starting to think they did that on purpose.

  42. easilydissolvedinwater  |   Posted on Feb 10th, 2009 +4

    Still stand behind my original choice, “Alone in the Dark”, but I got another one. The Kevin Kline-with-cancer flick “Life As a House”. That movie was saccharine and empty, I think it almost rotted out my teeth.

    • Life As a House has the most awkward shower scene ever.

      I nominate that ten fold.

    • hopeleslie  |   Posted on Feb 10th, 2009 +3

      I totally second “Alone in the Dark”– Tara Reid’s role as a serious scientist (signified by her wearing glasses and a too-tight button-up shirt) is a must see.
      Also, has anyone considered a Sandra Bullock disaster? What about her time-travel love with Keanu Reeves in “The Lakehouse”?

  43. Ginger A.  |   Posted on Feb 10th, 2009 +1

    Gabe and Lindsay — thank you for all the awesome animated gifs that have been popping up on the site lately. Please, please, please keep it up. So great!

  44. Cornelius  |   Posted on Feb 10th, 2009 0

    P-P-P-Patch Adams!

  45. I tried to like this movie, I really did, but it was too painful. And were those the same “robot collecting baskets” as the “human collecting baskets” in War of the Worlds? Oooh, speaking of War of the Worlds, you should do that. Or any fucking Tom Cruise movie. That guy gives me the creeps. Nah, too obvious.

    I stand by Lawnmower Man.

  46. I nominate Halloween III. It might be skirting the A- or B-list star rule, but being a part of a successful, and at that point critically-praised, franchise should make it acceptable.

    Also Tomb Raider was pretty horrible.

  47. Bonkey  |   Posted on Feb 10th, 2009 +4

    Juno! Juno! Juno!

  48. Laurie  |   Posted on Feb 10th, 2009 +1

    I would like to nominate 2 movies.

    1. Sands of Oblivion
    2. Sweeney Todd

  49. snothouse  |   Posted on Feb 10th, 2009 +1

    Are you seriously not going to mention the TALKING TEDDY BEAR THAT ADVENTURES WITH HIM?

  50. I tend to view AI as a good film (maybe even great?) that is unsuccessful. Haley Joel’s performance, especially when his love switch (love switch?) is turned on, is the thing I keep coming back to: equal parts creepy, beguiling, sometimes sympathetic, he inspires all sorts of uncomfortable questions in the viewer. For instance, why do I instinctively love (or hate) something cute and small? Why do I feel revulsion at the concept of an inorganic thing making a theater out of love? You’re right– the film, intentionally or no (which I’ll get to), lets the viewer examine his/her own programmatic responses, the things that were “hardwired” into our evolutionary design over the course of millions of years. Does the fact that we are made of carbon–ORGANIC–really matter? One building material for another. We point to the notion of a soul, but the soul is an abstraction; maybe we invented it from a sense of horror that we were not ever unique.

    This is the stuff that all science fiction dealing with robots/cyborgs/doppelgangers/etc has gotten its hands into. What we are looking to in the robot, the cyborg, the OTHER is ourselves. If robots are subject to the questions of existence, of the soul, then why do we resist turning the questions onto ourselves?

    I think what a lot of people react negatively to in AI is the sense of intentionality, on Spielberg or Kubrick’s part. Kubrick wanted to make it dark, wring it of its humanity until what you had left was a sterile paring knife (to stab the viewer with). Spielberg, that rascally humanist, would of course inject it with his sense of warmth and humanity, he would be responsible for that saccharine “happy” ending, rather than stopping it at the Blue Fairy. The ending is brought up over and over in discussions of the film, and I agree that there are a lot of things wrong with it, including the cliche of making the most intelligent characters in a movie British, stretched to thebatshit craziest extreme with BRITISH SPACE ALIENS. But for my part, I see the ending as almost apocalyptically cynical: our search for love and connection with another person would send us out, if we could live forever like the robot boy, across time. But at the end we would see that we had never connected with this person, that the love we had thought was mutual was only ever in ourselves. We are all programs running the same endless code; we love, we love, we love. We all end up buried–alone–in our own prisons, ice or otherwise.

    Because it was made by Spielberg–the man who found a happy ending in the holocaust– most viewers wouldn’t allow for the possibility of this type of cynicism. I think my point is that it IS there, if you are looking for it. Great movies, and let’s be honest, this is definitely not the worst, spread tentacles out beyond the director’s/writer’s scope of intentionality. These things don’t exist in vacuums. Sorry for the novel-in-response.

    • Your comment was really thoughtful–

      I find the choice of HJO for the part to be strategic on the part of Spielberg–would his (Kubrick’s?) movie have been as “successful” if it had been, say, a middle-aged man instead of a cute little boy? I think Bicentennial Man proves that it would have. The choice of a HJO for the role, other than the fact that Kubrick’s conception must have called for a young boy, probably had a lot to do with the fact that cute kids who are strangely effective actors bring in lots of money (see also: E.T., War of the Worlds). That said, I wasn’t necessarily saying that we are evolutionarily “hardwired” to respond sympathetically to HJO-ish characters, but rather conditioned to by other books and movies about hard-up little kids (Annie, Oliver Twist, ad infinitum). I’m sure there’s some Darwinian explanation for why we instinctively adore and sympathize with the cute (probably something about protecting our young, indicated by diminutive features etc.), but what I really meant is that children are rarely portrayed as anything other than sympathetic protagonists in mainstream film (I realize there are some exceptions to this) and probably Spielberg knew that HJO was a popular kid actor at the time.

      “Does the fact that we are made of carbon–ORGANIC–really matter? One building material for another.” Yes, it does matter. (Let me preface this by saying it’s been a LONG time since I’ve actually seen A.I.) The human capacity to learn and adapt and experience new feelings is apparently infinite, as far as we can tell. Artificial intelligence is necessarily limited not only by what we perceive to be the boundaries of our own intelligence, but also our ability to mechanically replicate it. Inasmuch as A.I. requires the suspension of disbelief/magical realism/etc., I don’t think that Spielberg asks us to accept that David the robot has turned into a “real boy” at any point. Since the world of A.I. exists as a function of human actions, whether constructive or destructive, I don’t think a premise of the film is that we at any point had the ability to create organic life from essentially inorganic materials, or really from anything. Because these robots, no matter what, are not organic and cannot grow and develop any further than they are programmed to, they are incapable of developing intellectually like humans can. This is why David feels the desperation of a child’s love–because he is programmed to. His sense of self-preservation doesn’t come from instincts, but from a computerized command to maintain the artificial love he was designed to portray (PORTRAY being the operative word).

      I think what viewers sympathize with, perhaps without thinking, is the convincing portrayal of love. We forget he’s not human. He’s not! If the Blue Fairy granted his wish and he were suddenly a human child, the love he feels would probably diminish in intensity because it would not be artificial anymore. His feelings would become more nuanced, and he would be able to emotionally respond to things other than just the one directive to love his “mom” as real humans do. That is the difference between neuro-cognition and artificial intelligence. Even humans who remain fixated on one supremely intense emotion to the exclusion of all else are considered to have cognitive malfunctions, or some sort of neurotic dissonance.

      Obviously because I have no other priorities today than philosophizing over a Haley Joel Osment film, I thought I would also take the time to address your view of the end of the movie. I agree it lends itself to futility in a way, but I think it totally glosses over it. When I imagine a Kubrickian (that’s a word) ending, I see it as so much darker and basically nihilistic. Spielberg takes the sting out of the hopelessness of David’s existence (the only thing he is programmed to do is love one particular woman who no longer exists) by ending on a happy note that a typical viewer would buy into. He’s happy that day because he is with what he thinks is his mom. But what about the next day? And the next? And the next 2000 years? Spielberg doesn’t suggest that we think about that. I think Kubrick would have ended with a less optimistic note, but Spielberg makes family films. Stanley Kubrick doesn’t.

      The difference between humans and Haley Joel Osment (ha) is that we are “programmed” to do so much more than just “love.” Humans face an existential dilemma because we have to find a way to create meaning out of an essentially meaningless existence in a universe with no real order. Robots’ “existences” are not existential, but merely nihilistic, because they are incapable of creating meaning. They just perform. HJO’s apparent angst isn’t angst but just him performing his programmed function of “loving.”

      Thus concludes my epic foray into gross overconsideration (FOR NOW)…..

  51. Two horrible movies to be considered:

    Random Hearts starring Harrison Ford and Kristin Scott Thomas
    Life Or Something Like It starring Angelina Jolie and Edward Burns

    …and while I haven’t seen it, the whole premise of 7 Pounds looks so incredibly awful that it should be considered once it comes out on DVD.

  52. I would like to nominate Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist just because it is what Michael Cera has chosen to do instead of the Arrested Development movie.

  53. ThomBoh  |   Posted on Feb 10th, 2009 +1

    My nomination once again:

    Max Payne.

    Just a reminder.

  54. Great concept.
    Bad execution.

  55. Hapax2  |   Posted on Feb 10th, 2009 +5

    “Nell.” One of the most cringe-inducing movie experiences of my life. It has everything:

    1. Chance for an A-lister (Jodie Foster) to chew up the scenery playing, in effect, a developmentally disabled person — who nevertheless in her feral state possesses a WISDOM and an understanding of NATURE that the arrogant scientists from the city, ironically, could never grasp;

    2. Chance for Hollywood to ask some of the Big Questions in a would-be Oscar-baiting manner that goes horribly awry; and

    3. A scene in which Jodie Foster is magically cured of her pathological fear of men by the accidental sighting of Liam Neeson’s presumably flaccid peen.

    The word for it is ICKY.

  56. lindsay lohan's secret third vagina  |   Posted on Feb 10th, 2009 -2

    I nominate EMPIRE RECORDS. Yes. I was never fooled by it for a second. Not even when I was 14. Liv Tyler sucks.

  57. I know I’m going to get flamed for nominating this because it stars everyone’s little darling Zooey Deschanel, but All The Real Girls was just about the biggest, steaming pile of I’ve had the misfortune of viewing. Not only was it mind numbingly boring but there wasn’t one reedeeming characteristic in any of the characters. This and The Last Kiss need to be thrown on The ‘Garden State’ Parkway and run over repeatedly.

    • Wait, maybe ATRG did not have a theatrical release. I don’t know, and I’m too lazy to check. I can’t imagine that it would have been in theaters. Oh well. And I’m sorry about all the grammatical errors in that last post, it’s just that thinking about that movie again…well, it just makes me see anger in colors.

  58. Casey  |   Posted on Feb 10th, 2009 +2

    Two things about this one:

    1) If eating food will fuck him up, WHY DID HIS DESIGNERS MAKE HIM ABLE TO EAT FOOD?

    2) What purpose does this serve for parents that want children but can’t have them? Is he going to remain a retarded little child forever, even as his parents get older and older? Didn’t they think that through?

  59. Alexa  |   Posted on Feb 10th, 2009 +4

    thank you! i suggested “because i said so” a while ago, and i stick by it even though i recently saw “the women”. *shudder*

  60. Nox  |   Posted on Feb 10th, 2009 -2

    Has anyone nominated Hard Candy? That shit was so awful and I wish I could erase it from my mind.

  61. pay it forward.

  62. A.I. is a contender, that’s for fucking sure, but do you really believe “The Terminal” is the worst Spielberg movie? Is it worse than “Hook,” “Always,” and “Indiana Jones 4″? I think not. Let’s be honest, Spielberg does not make a whole lot of good movies.

  63. rb  |   Posted on Feb 11th, 2009 +4

    A.I. is one of the more interesting movies of the last so many years. Sure, it’s disjointed and often patchy, but it throws up some intriguing questions regarding the narrative itself, and also cinema in general (particularly the whole Kubrick-Spielberg dichotomy).
    It’s sci-fi and it’s fantasy. And it’s not as captivating or as focussed as 2001 or The Wizard of Oz. But the fact that it creates even a hint of harmony between things so disparate is reason enough to appreciate it.

  64. lambdroid  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2009 -5

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  65. Well, this was amazing. You had me at “sweet mommy bear.”

    I must add my voice to the doom chorus for The Last Kiss. Blythe Danner cries on a treadmill after she can’t make it work, Summer from The O.C. is a flautist willing to bang ZACH BRAFF.
    As if Summer could play the flute.

  66. Tombo  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2009 +1

    August Rush. 1000 times, August Rush.

  67. Pearl Harbor has to be included in this hunt.

  68. katie  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2009 -1

    bringing out the dead is the worst movie of all time.

  69. It seems like you’re picking movies that you are aware people like now (because they are actually good movies) and bashing them to run up your comments and hits. Lame sauce. I enjoyed this movie. Parts of it were hokey but the art direction was good and the story was fun in a Sci-fi Fairy tale way.

    If you’re gonna call out shit, call out Cloverfield. Shit sucks.

    • Hapax2  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2009 +3

      Dear god yes, Cloverfield. After 10 minutes of hearing the characters whine about their piddly lives, I was more than ready for the monster to eat them all and be done with it. I got real-life motion sickness from the jerky hand-held camera affectation and threw up later while driving through a tunnel, which if you think about it is very dangerous (you can’t stop, can’t slow down, can’t pull over; all you can do is drive and vomit). If only I had had a terrible accident and died, my heirs and heart-broken loved ones could have sued the filmmakers. How sweet that would have been. But no, life is not that kind. Instead, I lived and became a bitter husk of my former self, all because of this movie. You’re tearing me apart Cloverfield!

      • 12:51  |   Posted on Feb 28th, 2009 0

        Ughhhhh I haaaaaated Cloverfield so much! Probably because it had seemed like it might be awesome. Somehow I managed to forget the main dude’s name; I’m not sure how as camera-holding dude screamed it like ever .3 seconds until he got chomped.

  70. sc  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2009 -4

    for your consideration:
    monster-in-law.
    stranger than fiction.
    armageddon.
    24hr party people.

  71. Speaking of sci-fi, I’m shocked that the Matrix Reloaded/Revolutions have yet to be mentioned. The audience walked out of the latter as though everybody had been told they had cancer.

  72. YOU GUYS GARDEN STATE COME ON

    this movie still hasn’t gotten enough hate yet

  73. lulu  |   Posted on Feb 13th, 2009 +1

    how about the 80s gem, “Soul Man”, I saw it and wow, would really like YOUR input dude.

  74. eric  |   Posted on Feb 13th, 2009 0

    This was a great movie you stupid morons.

  75. The guy that hates the Postman  |   Posted on Feb 13th, 2009 0

    the fucking postman

    • the guy that hate/loves the postman  |   Posted on Feb 14th, 2009 0

      I second this motion but I own The Postman and think it is such a stupendously craptastical peice of epic fail that it turns into a masterwork of tragic beauty.

  76. the guy that hate/loves the postman  |   Posted on Feb 14th, 2009 -1

    I second this motion but I own The Postman and think it is such a stupendously craptastical peice of epic fail that it turns into a masterwork of tragic beauty.

  77. colleen  |   Posted on Feb 14th, 2009 -1

    worst movie EVER: the fountain
    so horrid

  78. mighty undies  |   Posted on Feb 15th, 2009 0

    I won’t rest until I see Return To Cold Mountain reviewed.

  79. rahm  |   Posted on Feb 16th, 2009 +1

    It’s not unusual to watch lame movies and hate them but to really be sorry for having spent your time on them, that’s rare, at least to me. And movies that made me feel that way have been Little Nicky, Anger Management and Death Proof. Nominate those :)

  80. GDI woman  |   Posted on Feb 16th, 2009 +2

    I nominate “Meet the Spartans” as the worst attempt at humor ever filmed. I accidentally happened upon this wretched waste of celluloid on TV last week and couldn’t believe this movie was ever made, much less released. And I love slapstick spoofs, (as in anything Mel Brooks ever did) but “Meet the Spartans” was so grotesquely NOT funny, I almost gagged numerous time while I watched most of it in fascinated horror.

    ~ GDI

  81. I actually like AI. Just my humble opinion.

    But, I nominate The Marine. It’s been on FX for the past week or so, and I’ve been wanting to shoot myself for the past week or so.

  82. I thought that this movie was absolutely brilliant until the spielbergian parts started creeping in, its actually pretty easy to tell when it ceases to be a Kubrick movie. I don’t think that this movie belongs here.

  83. dt  |   Posted on Feb 18th, 2009 0

    I was pregnant when I saw a.i. I cried uncontrollably( especially when it came to teddy) and that scene with the robot wars! I was disturbed and had nightmares for weeks about it. I’m actually confused about how I feel about it. I can definitely say Schindler’s list is the best. I thought the hills have eyes was the worst movie ever but i’m a wuss obviously

  84. Lurky  |   Posted on Feb 19th, 2009 +1

    I had insomnia last night and I watched Death Proof. I would have been better off staring at the ceiling and being miserable. Utter crap.

  85. sourcreamus  |   Posted on Feb 20th, 2009 -4

    AI is a horrible movie and anyone who liked it even a little bit is an idiot.

  86. brent  |   Posted on Feb 22nd, 2009 0

    AI is pretty bad….but bicentennial man is the worst piece of anything ever made….ever….

  87. just have to say that i happen to love a.i. and i think you entirely miss the point of the film in your ‘review’ of it. if you can get past the overt sentimentality, you’ll find one of the few films that combines fairy tale archetypes with philip k dick esque nightmares. i’m not a huge spielberg fan, but this is one of my favorite movies of his — a film in which he pushes himself as a filmmaker and tries to make art. even if it fails at times (which it does), its still an extremely interesting, surreal, and moody work.

  88. ArtB.  |   Posted on Mar 24th, 2009 +2

    You’re insane. A.I. is one of the best movie of the last decade. I want you banned from ever writing about movies ever.

  89. filmoerotic  |   Posted on Apr 1st, 2009 0

    I have to agree with the last comment. The movie has some weak points but definitely not in consideration for the “worst movie”. Just skip the coliseum and stop it before the epilogue and it’s right there with Blade Runner.

  90. pinn  |   Posted on Apr 8th, 2009 0

    i loooove ai, its so pretty how can it be wmoat

  91. Adam  |   Posted on Apr 29th, 2009 +1

    AHAHAHA is that ADRIEN GRENIER HAHAHAAH what a flop he plays an extra in this movie.

    But i disagree, AI was an awesome film, great story and visuals. You can sit here shit talking alot of movies, but you’d probably shit your pants if you knew how much work goes into making something you slander so easily.

  92. fingerquotes  |   Posted on Jun 12th, 2009 0

    Indiana Jones is obviously dreadful, but there is no way that any Spielberg movie is worse than Always. IJ4 wasn’t trying, as evidenced by the whole jungle chase scene and the worst green screen technology ever to appear in a 100+ million dollar movie, but Always was trying and epically failing on sincere story elements (though it was a remake). This was the beginning of the end of an unexpectedly high-profile career for the truly idiosyncratic Richard Dreyfus – the Phil Collins of pop film actors.

  93. Napoleon Complex  |   Posted on Jul 15th, 2009 +1

    I remember really wanting to see this movie when it came out when I was 8 [yes, I'm young, shut up.] And my Dad wouldn’t let me because it was rated R. And then it came out on DVD a few months later and he let me see it anyway. I remember thinking it was awesome but scary as hell. And that’s when I learned two things: my Dad is cool, and Spielberg sci-fi movies will scar you for life.

  94. Color of Night  |   Posted on Aug 15th, 2009 0

    I hate A.I. less every time I see it. Mostly because of it’s anesthetic qualities. It’s like a shot of Novocain right in your sharing and caring module. What I do hate is Color of Night. Jane March was so hot in The Lover, this is just like the ultimate disappointment for all of us fans of movies with so much over-the-top lovin’ that you feel sore just watching it.

  95. I think this movie is a very good movie actually… I admit it has its moments… But the over all concept of A.I. is heart wrenching. I like it.

  96. after that scathing review of possibly one of the best tear-jerkers i have ever seen, i feel absolutely compelled to watch The Terminal. Thanks for the heads up, i didnt even know it existed…think ill go download it right now…its obviously quite good, judging by your review of it. you wouldnt know a good movie if it bit you on the BUTT, thats what i think.

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