In the not too distant future a retired second story man is losing his mind. His son is tired of having to spend his day off driving out to check on him, so he buys him a robot companion. The robot soon becomes the most important person in his life.
There are a few twists and turns in this fairly slow moving story of a man and his robot. Bit by bit we learn about Frank and get a clearer picture of just how bad his memory has become. Robot helps him by providing structure to his life. Part of this structure involves doing something familiar-a bit of burglary. The villains in the piece are book hating Yuppies and the hero is a criminal.
Frank Langella plays the memory impaired cat burglar and Robot is voiced by Peter Sarsgaard-who does such a good job of impersonating Michael Emerson that I didn’t believe the credits. The other main players are James Marsden, Liv Tyler, and Susan Sarandon.
The idea that robots will soon be advanced enough to take the place of human caregivers is an interesting one, but the fact that Frank can so easily manipulate his robot does point to a few possible weaknesses. Robots have always been a part of Utopian fantasies where machines take over tasks humans no longer want to do. But that isn’t exactly what has happened. Robots have kicked people to the curb because they are cheaper than human labor. What will happen when a robot can become a Doctor or Lawyer or well, anything? That isn’t really what Robot & Frank is about, though we do learn that Robot could always become a second story man if the whole health care thing doesn’t work out.
Robot and Frank was a fun movie that made me want my own super Asimo. It’s still cheaper to hire real people, but the idea of having a robot that will not only wash the dishes and scrub the toilet but also help you shoplift when the mood strikes-how cool is that?