A Strong Heart Beats at the Core of "Robot & Frank" Review

Is there any story more touching than that of an old man and his robot? Probably, but Robot & Frank gives the rest a good run for their money thanks to an unconventional story and a great performance by Frank Langella as the old codger reluctant to accept any help from his children only to form a begrudging friendship with the robot left to act as his caretaker. One of the most interesting aspects of Robot & Frank is its dispatching of the classic laws of robotics that force robots to act as servants incapable of criminal acts. That noticeable ethical absence forms the foundation of the film's plot and takes this otherwise unassuming drama in a few unexpected directions, making it a film worth tracking down for just about everyone.

Set sometime in the future is the story of Frank (Langella) who, despite getting up there in years, lives alone in a secluded house much to the anxiety of his son (James Marsden) and daughter (Liv Tyler), bringing the former to buy his father a robot aide who cooks his meals, cleans the house, and encourages Frank to adopt a hobby to keep his mind sharp. That last step triggers something in the consistently forgetful Frank and he begins planning a favorite activity from his younger days: a heist. As Frank and his robot plan the heist, Frank begins to want things he'd previously forgotten from life, including the affection of the local librarian (Susan Sarandon) whose job and appreciation for actual books are being eroded by the transition of the library to an augmented reality experience center.

While at first Robot & Frank seems like just another story of an unusual friendship blossoming from a forced situation, the added aspects of the heist, Frank's children's views on robotics, and Frank's deteriorating mental status all blend together to make the film something truly unique. It's an offbeat story that boasts a memorable performance by Langella and in the end Robot & Frank has something that everyone will enjoy, no matter how cynical you might be.

DVD Bonus Features

An audio commentary and some posters related to the film's secondary plotpoint of robot's rights are the only extras.

"Robot & Frank" is on sale February 12, 2013 and is rated PG13. Drama. Directed by Jake Schreier. Written by Christopher D. Ford. Starring Frank Langella, James Marsden, Liv Tyler, Peter Sarsgaard, Susan Sarandon.

Lex Walker • Editor

He's a TV junkie with a penchant for watching the same movie six times in one sitting. If you really want to understand him you need to have grown up on Sgt. Bilko, Alien, Jurassic Park and Five Easy Pieces playing in an infinite loop. Recommend something to him - he'll watch it.


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