In one of Steven Spielberg’s greatest commercial failures, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, lays one of his best emotional stories; a plot that questions the very idea of morality. The future is ravaged by floods, over-population and robots. But these robots are how today’s society views them: unemotional, detached and only used to better humans. Until one man dares to dream of a robot able to experience human emotions. This robot, called David, becomes the central focus of this film. His heart is full of love, and the only thing he wants in return is to feel loved.
The central question of morality is brought up early in the film and carried on throughout: if we create someone to love us, are we expected to love it in return? For most of the story, that answer appears to be no. We don’t have to love something artificial; they aren’t real and they don’t deserve to have the same love we experience.
Monica is able to leave David in the woods, yes she cries about it, but she was still able to get in the car and walk away. Jake Thomas (who has to be type-casted because he was equally a little shit in this film as he is in Lizzie McGuire) and the dad show absolutely no connection to David. They throw huge spectacles centered around destroying those robots without feelings.
It’s heartbreaking, watching David’s quest to be loved and being denied at every chance. As much as this film was an adaptation of “Supertoys Last All Summer Long”, it appropriates so many other iconic films and fairy tales, the line becomes blurred. There are strong elements of Pinocchio (David’s determined to find the blue fairy so he can become a real boy), the Wizard of Oz, Star Wars — sometimes these moments are purely allusions to the film, but others play a vital role in moving the plot along. If David had never developed the fascination with Pinocchio, he would have never survived the new ice age, which allowed him to finally experience the love from his mom (I know that doesn’t actually make sense to someone who has never seen the movie… DNA and cloning were involved).
I could have done without the 2 1/2 hour time frame, but the heart of the story, finding love and acceptance, was overpowering enough to make the audience forget the length. For being as creepy as he was, not blinking, Haley Joel Osment was really in his prime in the late 1990s/early 2000s — he allowed the audience to ignore the hardware and focus on his heart.
(I will not apologize for the cliche ending to this blog post, cliches are fun, I enjoy them and this film was littered with them)