Robot and Frank

Rated: PG-13

        Every once in a while a movie comes along that seems so quirky and odd that it almost shouts at you to be seen. It may not fit into the traditional categories as a straight comedy or drama, but that’s OK. There’s something about it that says “I may be different, but that’s not always a bad thing. Take a leap of faith and spend some time with me. I promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised.” These movies typically aren’t big budget. You may end up recognizing some of the faces in them, but then again, you may not. And unless you’re really on top of these types of things, you’ve probably never even heard of most of them. True Romance is one. Garden State is another. Some other examples are The Science of Sleep and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindNot every movie that falls into this “never been heard of” category is great. Heck, a lot of them aren’t even good. But every now and again there’s one that shines like a jewel in the sun. Robot and Frank is just such a movie.

                Set in the near future, it follows the life of Frank, a semi-retired burglar who spent the better part of his past, and his children’s lives, in and out of prison. He is quickly fading further and further into dementia. His petty thievery and slovenly way of life has always bothered his son Hunter, and now that Frank has started to forget things more and more frequently, Hunter knows that something needs to be done. Not wanting to commit more time to his father than he already does, Hunter decides to get him a robot. Frank is skeptical at first, but Robot quickly grows on him. In no time Frank is teaching Robot his thieving ways. Robot is the companion that Frank needs, but does Frank need more help than Robot can give?

                This movie wasn’t groundbreaking in any way. There were no awesome special effects. Despite the fact that it’s set in the future, there are no hover cars or ray guns.  This certainly wasn’t the first movie ever made with a robot, and the idea of a movie about dementia and family dysfunction isn’t new either. And so "what," you ask, "is the point in watching it then?" Robot and Frank is worth watching because Frank Langella plays the main character. Its worth watching because Christopher D. Ford wrote a screenplay that’s subtle, funny, serious and thoughtful. Its worth watching because director Jake Schreier did a wonderful job making a movie that feels realistic and familiar. And finally, its worth watching because of the way it will make you feel. Without trying overly hard or being pushy this movie will make you laugh, make you sad, anger and annoy you and give you a general sense of peaceful happiness by the time its over. Its one of those movies that ends up being like an old friend that you’ll just have to pull out and watch from time to time.

                Robot and Frank stars Frank Langella, James Marsden, Liv Tyler, Peter Sarsgaard and Susan Sarandon. It’s rated PG 13 and is available now on Blu Ray and DVD.