Robot & Frank Movie Review
Ah, the classic story of an old man and his friend robot. A tried and true tale that has been told through the centuries. And even yet, Robot & Frank is a surprisingly endearing drama-comedy about two unlikely friends, starring Frank Langella and the voice of Peter Sarsgaard.
Frank is a retired jewelry thief who lives in a nice house in the woods. He is showing signs of senility, and his son (James Marsden), who lives several hours away, decides to buy him a robot butler to take care of him - and, more importantly, be his friend. At first skeptical, Frank develops a bond with the straightforward robot - and begins to plot his latest and presumably final heist.
Jake Schreier, making his directorial debut, manages to effectively create a low-key vision of the future working with a miniscule $2.5 million budget. Schreier shows incredible restraint by keeping things simple and subtle, adding doses of technological upgrades (everyone has robots) while minimizing colorful distractions that would increase costs while contributing nothing to the story itself.
And it's the story where Robot & Frank truly succeeds. Christopher D. Ford has written a unique and surprisingly story that has no right being as good as it is. The movie is neither overly dramatic nor funny, but Ford and Schreier find the perfect blend of the two genres. Robot & Frank is lighthearted and heartwarming, and somehow manages to present a sincere friendship between the two main characters.
Never mind that one of the two characters is an emotionless robot.
As good as it is, Robot & Frank does struggle some in the final act as Frank decides to set in motion a burglary - a course of action that feels out of place with the rest of the movie. While the film never gets heavy handed about its crime elements, I would have taken the story in a different direction. Furthermore, the revelation that occurs at the end between Langella and Susan Sarandon also was a little strange.
Robot & Frank isn't perfect, but it is one of the more unique and relatable movies of 2012.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.