SIFF 2012: Robot and Frank **1/2

By Dennis Hartley

(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on June 2, 2012)

Robot and Frank, a lightweight crowd pleaser from first-time director Jake Schreier, opens with a screen crawl informing us that it’s “the near future” (code for “we’re not budgeted for CGI, so you’ll have to take our word for it”). The story centers on an aging ex-cat burglar named Frank (Frank Langella). Concerned about Frank’s increasing forgetfulness, his son presents him with a “caregiver” robot. Initially, Frank reacts with crankiness and hostility toward his metallic Man Friday (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard) but warms up considerably after he gleans that the robot is a wiz at picking locks and cracking safes. You can likely guess what happens next (think Going in Style meets the classic Ray Bradbury-penned Twilight Zone episode, “I Sing the Body Electric”). Not exactly groundbreaking sci-fi (the A-I theme is pretty dusty) but buoyed considerably by Christopher Ford’s affable screenplay, Langella’s engaging performance and the always-welcome presence of Susan Sarandon.

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