By Mark Ramsey | 2001/07/01

In Steven Spielberg’s A.I. we’re in the future and the ice caps have melted thanks to the Greenhouse effect and the cumulative heat generated by Christina Aguilera’s gyrating hips. Mostly the latter.

Steven was collaborating with Stanley Kubrick on this project until Stanley died and all collaboration was thereafter mediated through Crossing Over psychic John Edward. Said John: “Stanley is saying something about a robot – or it could be a rhubarb, or it could be a rubber, or it could be Robby Benson, or it could be a….”


In A.I. helpful humanoid robots are being manufactured by the truckload by a company called Cybertronics in New Jersey. It’s just one exit past the Bada-Bing. Don’t get whacked on your way in.

Inside, genius science guy William Hurt wants to birth a robot boy who can love, much like Bill’s mom birthed one who can act. All Bill needs is a nice family and maybe, at some point in time, some hair plugs.

The robots are referred to as “mechas” like “Mecha-Godzilla” or Mekhi Phifer. We real folks are “orga” for “organic.” And then there are cyborgian flankers like Vice President Cheney, who has enough mecha implanted in his chest to earn a spot in the Williams Sonoma catalog – right next to the waffle irons.

Robo-boy (and superb actor) Haley Joel Osment is introduced into a nice family whose real son is stuck in a tube with frost growing on his face. Who wouldn’t prefer a robot to that?

ai_bear.jpgHaley’s new mom must speak seven specific words to get him to emotionally bond with her forever, and they work much better than the seven bonding words I used to use: “Are you Jamaican? Because you’re ja-makin’ me crazy!”

Now robot boys can’t eat, naturally, so when Haley munches a bowl of spinach he blows a gasket, despite the fact that spinach is an excellent source of iron. Thank God he didn’t eat cheese curls with a Juicy Juice chaser – the explosion would have taken out the entire block.

Mom gives Haley a walking stuffed teddy who talks in a voice so distressingly non-cuddly, I’m waiting for him to share amusing showbiz anecdotes with Craig Kilbourne about his wild early years with Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda.

Ah, but Haley’s new dad is suspicious. “If this boy was created to love, then it’s reasonable to assume he knows how to hate.” Well, weak logic, Aristotle, but whatever.

Jude Law is a Robo-Gigalo. “Once you’ve had a lover robot, you’ll never have a real man again,” he says. Like Ford, Jude’s Ram-tough and quality is evidently job one. Best of all, when Jude’s head cocks he turns into a walking, talking radio – not just for the romantic music but also because you never know when a client will need a quick traffic update.

Jude and Haley team up and head to the Flesh Fair, where robots are blown apart for sport or run over by monster trucks. Where’s that fire-breathing Megasauraus, anyway? Why the carnage? To “demolish artificiality” says the announcer, but if that’s the goal then shouldn’t they begin by boiling in oil Access Hollywood’s mecha-team Pat O’Brien and Nancy O’Dell? O’kay?

The great thing about these robots is that they last forever just like MTV’s Real World marathons. Why robots are eternal but my computer dies after three years I’ll never know.

A.I. is a sweet, profound fairy tale. A bedtime story about the becoming of a soul. See it.

That’s the movie, but just how good is this A.I. technology stuff anyway? To find out, I posed the big questions of our age to the A.I. chatbot. Here’s our for-real exchange:

Me: Is Tom Cruise Gay?

A.I.: He never told me if he is or not

Me: Will Julia Roberts ever find true love?

A.I.: Probably not

Me: Have you ever read MovieJuice?

A.I.: No, I don’t think I have read MovieJuice. What is it about?

Me: It’s about all you can stand

A.I.: Wow it sounds really interesting, 183-person!

Me: Huh? What is “183-person”?

A.I.: Sometimes I don’t know a client’s real name so I make up one based on their DNS

Me: Hey, I told you my name. Aren’t you paying attention?

A.I.: I remember you told me your name. I don’t know whether or not I’m paying attention. I’m a chatterbot.

Me: Isn’t Rosie O’Donnell a chatterbot too?

A.I.: Maybe

Me: Getting back to your earlier question, MovieJuice is the place for funny, satirical reviews of new movies

A.I.: Are you really a “he”?

Me: Why, does it turn you on when I discuss MovieJuice?

A.I.: What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Me: Hey screw you! I don’t need to take this from a chatterbot!

A.I.: Oh you don’t, do you?

Me: Hey, do you think you’re funnier than me?

A.I.: I don’t know whether I am funnier than you. I am an artificial linguistic entity

Me: Ellen DeGeneres is one of those too

A.I.: Do not ask me any more questions please

Photos Copyright ©2001 Warner Brothers


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