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Monday, January 7, 2013

ROBOT & FRANK

By D.E. Levine

Does Frank Langella ever give a bad performance?  The answer is evidently no.

In this charming and deceptively simple film, Langella plays Frank, an ex-con, a retired second, story man who moves to Cold Springs, New York and lives a quiet life at 70.  His only friend appears to be the town librarian (Susan Sarandon).
 
Frank's grown children Hunter (James Marsden) and Madison (Liv Taylor) don't know exactly what to do with Frank.  He hasn't been the best parent, having served two lengthy stints in prison.

Hunter gives Frank a robot aide, (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard), who Frank doesn't want and refuses to name anything but Robot.  After listening for several days to Robot's lectures on health, diet, exercise and various other topics, Frank decides to use the Robot's intelligence by enlisting him in a jewel robbery of a rather pompous, but very rich, neighbor.

What happens next both warms the heart and tugs at the heartstrings.  Regardless of his protestations, Frank has grown fond of his Robot and is strained to take action that will help him but harm Robot.

The story is endearing, with some humor and some pathos.  It blends the technology of the 21st century with the lifestyle we're used to and shows that family problems, obnoxious neighbors and unrealized prejudices are part of everyday life.