Starring Frank Langella, Peter Sarsgaard, James Marsden, Susan Sarandon and Liv Tyler. Written by Christopher Ford. Directed by Jake Schreier. Produced by Lance Acord, Jeremy Bailer, Jackie Bisbee, Sam Bisbee, Theodora Dunlap, Erika Hampson, Bob Kelman, Galt Neiderhoffer, Bill Perry, Ann Porter, Danny Ryfkin, Cody Ryder and Tom Valerio.
When we go to the movie theatre, we usually expect one or more of the following – a hunky male lead, an overly sexualized female, an improbable romance, shameless violence, witty banter, special effects, etc. And it's completely understandable (I'd be lying if I said I wasn't completely enthralled and satisfied watching a beautiful bunch of sculpted super heroes save the planet in The Avengers earlier this summer). But, it doesn't compare to the satisfaction that comes with being swept away by a bare bones story like Robot & Frank. A sweet surprise, this movie runs high on emotion and develops an ironically organic relationship between a man and his machine without any of the extra bells or whistles.
Old time thief, Frank (Langella) is a pretty horrible person – he steals, he neglects his family, he's rude and he's immature. Still, he grows on the audience when his son, Hunter (Marsden) leaves him with a brand new rehabilitation robot (Sarsgaard) made to take care of him and tighten up his fleeting memory. His initial reaction and suspicions ("He'll kill me in my sleep!") begin to disappear when he begins using the robot for his personal "projects" and his deep-down need for companionship and affection begin to show. Periodically, he's graced with house visits from his flaky daughter (Tyler) and his struggling son, which makes for some humorous interaction and some insight into the dysfunctional nature of his relationships. As the movie continues, it gains momentum and suspense, revealing a twist that transforms this story from ordinary to intriguing and unpredictable.
Never relying on jokes or one particularly funny character, the story progresses naturally and never feels contrived, even though the concept is completely farfetched and could've very easily been nothing more than 'cute'. Frank isn't completely awful, but he's no angel either – he's a real person, susceptible to making mistakes and burning bridges just like the rest of us and Langella juggles this contrast flawlessly. A nice presentation of the fragility of personal relationships, family and life itself, Robot & Frank will make you ponder what it means to be part of the human race. —Rebecca Hillary