Sometimes you walk into a movie not expecting much and when it says ‘the end’ you are bowled over with how charmed you were and that is how I felt about “Robot and Frank”! The story takes place sometime in the near future in Cold Springs, New York. Nothing really much has changed except for large TV Skype screens but, and this is a big but, there are robots playing the role of caretakers for, mainly, elderly people.. Who wouldn’t want a robot to clean your place, cook your food, put you on a healthy diet, takes walks with you and, generally, doing the things you don’t like to do? Frank, that’s who.

The robot (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard) is given to Frank (Frank Langella) by his son Hunter (James Marsden) who is concerned that his father is suffering dementia. Frank was a ‘cat burglar’ and served 2 different terms in prison, one for tax evasion that embarasses him, and wasn’t around for Hunter or Hunter’s sister, Madison, (Liv Tyler) as they were growing up. In his 70s is Frank suffering dementia or just forgetful or just bored stiff? In any case he is not interested in having a robot taking care of him.

Frank has a ‘thing’ for the town librarian Jennifer (Susan Sarandon) who one day invites him to a party being given by a software tycoon Jake (Jeremy Strong) who plans to switch all the printed books in the library to digital books. At the party Frank notices Jake’s wife decked out many huge diamonds and being Frank his mind starts planning what he would have done 20 -30 years ago. Being a thief is what Frank is and he still plies his trade by stealing soap animals in a local store. In one instance when the robot covers Frank’s theft and the latter begins to think the robot may be more useful than he thought.

Frank tells the robot, who he refuses to name, tales about his past and explains some of the things he has done. It isn’t long before he has the robot learning how to pick locks and they go on their first job, stealing the original library “Don Quixote” book so Frank can give it to Jennifer. With success Frank decides he and robot will steal the jewels from Jake’s house. It isn’t long before the local Sheriff (Jeremy Sisto) has dealings with Frank, and the robot, not quite sure if Frank is faking it, being as sly as a fox or really has dementia.

The screenplay, by Christopher D. Ford, doesn’t go where you think it will and, sometimes doesn’t go as far as it should. Also in the future will young tycoons still be called yuppies? There is one scene which should have been expanded but it was if Ford didn’t want to get too sentimental. The direction, by Jake Schreier, doesn’t make the future seem so different from today but then he does make Frank and robot the stars as it should be.

Langella does a charming job while Sisto, Tyler, Marsden and Strong give him professional backup. There is no denying Sarandon’s presence on screen and a nod has to be given to Sarsgaard as the voice of robot almost but not making it human while whoever came up with the robot itself deserves to take a bow.

“Robot and Frank” is not a masterpiece of movie making but it provides 90 minutes of charm, fun and, at times intrigue. See it for a change of pace.


Posted August 31, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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