Tom Basham

Robot & Frank

In New On DVD, Uncategorized on February 14, 2013 at 12:39 pm

robot-and-frank

I saw the trailer for “Robot & Frank” about 6,000 times, so I was excited when the Netflix envelope showed up. The movie stars Robot (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard of An Education) and Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon) as Frank, and I don’t understand how the Robot got top billing. This was his feature film debut, and he may have done some stage work (something called “Warehouse in Japan”) but he should never have been put ahead of Langella, who has played both Dracula and Sherlock Holmes. I heard that the Brave Little Toaster was considered for the part, but that may have just been some backstage Vanity Fair gossip.

Frank is old, lives alone, and has become forgetful. I can’t remember if they mentioned Alzheimer’s or just called it dementia, as I am not too far behind Frank. They use this health issue as a reason to bring in the Robot. From there, it becomes a buddy movie, and I have to admit the Robot does steal some scenes, or maybe there are scenes where the Robot actually steals.  Frank’s only other friend in the movie, aside from his two annoying grown kids, is Jennifer, played by the always-delightful Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking).  She works at the library with her fat robot friend. A relationship with Robot and fat library robot never gets going, which may be a problem with the script or something to do with an incompatible input port. In fact, there are a number of plot lines in this movie that are not well developed.  The whole robot-caretaker thing is just around the corner and the dynamics of that can be fascinating.

There was so much talent in this movie and most of them were given a simple one-dimensional character program. Perhaps if some of these characters or subplots were further explored I would be more amped up.  Unfortunately, they only scratched the cyber surface in this movie, but I did not fall asleep watching it and that skinny car was cool.
This is the first real feature for screenwriter Christopher D. Ford and director Jake Schreier, so I am thinking they may have suffered from lack of confidence and/or control. They have skills, and I will look for their next project.  I give this movie 2 ½ stars and only hope C3PO does not see it, as it would certainly send him back into a downward spiral of booze and Asian porn algorithms.

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