By Forrest Hartman
Robot & Frank
2 ½ stars
Rated PG-13 for some language
Available on: DVD and on demand
Director Jake Schreier’s first feature film is a clever, if not entirely successful, project about an elderly man who develops an unexpected bond with a mechanical being.
The movie is set in the near future and focuses on Frank (Frank Langella), an aging jewel thief whose memory is rapidly fading. One day, his son, Hunter (James Marsden), arrives with a caretaker robot designed to assist with household chores and keep Frank as healthy as possible. At first, Frank is resistant, but when he learns that the robot has no moral code, he trains it in the art of thievery.
Schreier and writer Christopher Ford obviously want viewers to think about big ideas like the roles that memory and friendship play in our lives, and they present these issues in an appealing manner. It helps, too, that Langella – who commands most of the screen time – is a brilliant actor and that the robot is voiced by the likable Peter Saarsgard. Marsden is also solid, as are Liv Tyler and Susan Sarandon in small supporting parts.
As original and well-acted as “Robot & Frank” is, it suffers from a lethargic narrative that bogs down. Had Schreier given the project a little more pep, it would have been a delight. As is, the clever premise wears thin, leading to an amusing but dissatisfying experience.
DVD extras include a robot poster gallery and a commentary by Schreier and Ford.