by Coop Cooper
“Robot & Frank” – Set in the near future where robot caretakers are commonplace, Frank (Frank Langella) is a retired cat-burglar in a small New York community whose Alzheimer’s symptoms are steadily increasing. His son (James Marsden) insists that Frank accept the latest model of robot caretaker (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard) much to the ire of Frank’s daughter (Liv Tyler) who thinks robot labor is ruining society. Frank hates the robot at first but as the automaton begins to improve his day-to-day life, he soon realizes the robot could help him revive his former career. In an attempt to keep his waning brain sharp, Frank begins to teach the helpful robot the art of picking locks and casing marks. However, Frank’s renewed hobby begins to strain his relationship with the kindly librarian (Susan Sarandon) he is courting.
This bittersweet dramedy feels like a comeback for Frank Langella – who once played Dracula back in the 70’s – and seemed fit to retire from acting altogether. With a capable supporting cast and a smart script, “Robot & Frank” could have almost been a mainstream Hollywood film. It doesn’t quite nail the ending but the tone remains even and light without a hint of mean-spiritedness. I believe this one could become a sleeper hit as a rental. Rental release date: February 12, 2013.
4 out of 5 stars