Film

Robot Dreams

Robot and Frank: A Robot! And Frank Langella!

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EX-CON FRANK (Frank Langella) is old, tired, and starting to lose his memory. He lives alone in a filthy old house, eating cold cereal and occasionally shuffling over to the library to (A) pick up books so he can fall asleep reading them, and (B) hit on the foxy librarian (Susan Sarandon). Frank can't keep track of things. Frank blows off his children (James Marsden and Liv Tyler). Frank shouldn't be living alone. So his son buys him a robot—a "health care aide," who's programmed to monitor and improve Frank's physical and mental health. The robot takes out the trash, goes grocery shopping, and keeps Frank company. Frank hates the robot.

One morning the robot (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard) serves Frank a grapefruit for breakfast:

FRANK: Just bring me some cereal.
ROBOT: That cereal is full of unhealthy ingredients. I threw it away.
FRANK: Don't throw away my stuff.
ROBOT: Frank, that cereal is for children. Enjoy this grapefruit.
FRANK: You're for children, stupid.
ROBOT: Today we're going to start a garden!
FRANK: Oh, fuck this shit.

And so things go with Frank and his beleaguered robot—until Frank, thinking back on his days as a cat burglar, realizes he might be able to trick the robot into helping him pull off a heist.

What results is... I don't know. A buddy dramedy? A hilarious caper flick? A melancholy meditation on aging? An incredibly charming and touching tale of two misfits? All of these things? Yes, that last one. A goofy plot twist or two aside, Robot and Frank is phenomenal—funny and sad and kind and weird and insightful. It's one of my favorite movies I've seen in a long time. It also really, really makes me want my own robot buddy. Possibly we would steal things.

Related Film

Robot & Frank

Director: Jake Schreier

Producer: Jeremy Bailer, Lance Acord, Galt Niederhoffer, Jackie Bisbee and Sam Bisbee

Cast: Frank Langella, Peter Sarsgaard, Susan Sarandon, Liv Tyler, James Marsden, Jeremy Strong, Jeremy Sisto and Liev Schreiber

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