Making the Grades
IN THE FUTURISTIC WORLD OF A.I. Artificial Intelligence, melting polar ice caps have left costal cities submerged and millions ravaged by hunger while technology booms. Orgas (organic humans) live side by side with Mechas (mechanical robots) who assist the humans as servants, medics and even android lovers. But animosity grows between the Orgas and their disposable counterparts which plays itself out with savage inhumanity in the gladiator-like Flesh Fair rink, where discarded machines are mutilated for human entertainment. In the midst of all this, Professor Hobby (William Hurt), a leading scientist, sees new avenues for revenues. By creating a child-sized Mecha that is aware of it's own existence and bonds with parents, he can fulfill the ever-growing need for children in an era with enforced pregnancy limits.
After the loss of their son Martin (Jake Thomas), Henry Stinton (Sam Robards) tries to comfort his grief-stricken wife Monica (Frances O'Connor) with Hobby's first creation: the blond haired, blue-eyed David (Haley Joel Osment). Outraged at the idea, Monica is at first repulsed by the perfect animated child who sleeps on command and never spills at the table. But over time she warms to him and imprints the bonding program. Then an unforeseen medical breakthrough sends the couple reeling, and throws the child mecha on a terrifying journey to win back his mother's love.
When Stanley Kubrick died in March 1999, Steven Spielberg, a long time friend of the director, inherited the incomplete A.I. project. While the storyline mirrors the childhood tale of Pinocchio, this is no kids' movie. The graphic violence along with a few startling scenes and the sexual antics of head-clicking Gigolo Joe (Jude Law) put this movie rightfully in a PG-13 rating. More unsettling is the feeling that mankind is out of control, exercising their creative rights without considering their responsibilities. In the end, the movie slogs through twenty tedious minutes as Spielberg attempts to salvage an optimistic conclusion from Kubrick's grim storyline. But without resorting to fairytale magic, this film is doomed from the start. The best advice for A.I. may mimic another famous Spielberg character, "ET stay home."
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about A.I. Artificial Intelligence.
Even in this futuristic setting, humans readily discard objects. Does it make a difference when these “objects” are robots that are designed to “think” and even “feel” to a certain degree? What responsibility do the humans have to the objects they have created?
In the movie, most of the people portrayed are irresponsible, cruel or spiteful, while the mechas are depicted as relatively kind and considerate. Are those negative qualities what make humans real? If so, why would mechas want to become real?
While Professor Hobby used his creative hobby to help couples without children, did he consider the long-term ramifications of his invention? Would parents want to have a child that gave love but never grew up and became an independent adult? Did he consider the moral question posed to him during the opening scenes of the movie?