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See "Robot and Frank"

September 10, 2012 - Mike Donahey
The trails and tribulations of aging have been oft-portrayed on screen, stage, and television with perfunctory scenes built around absent-mindedness, constipation, farting, or the ubiquitous over-sexed male. The film, “Robot and Frank” does not incorporate any of the aforementioned. Instead, it sheds new light on aging in a clever, non-condescending manner.

The film is set sometime in the future. Frank Langella stars fittingly as Frank, a divorced, 70-ish semi-retired cat burglar who is struggling with memory loss to the point he finds himself one night burglarizing his own home. There are other issues, which result in his children urging him to move into a nursing home. Frank declines and holds his ground. Then, his somewhat estranged son does an end around — he buys dad a caretaker robot. Frank initially resists the new helper, but over time warms up to the robot and they become friends. The robot has another skill besides conversation, cooking and taking out the garbage — it efficiently can pick locks. Later, Frank engages his skilled friend in an effort to pull off one more job.

“Robot and Frank” is intelligent and funny, relying on good acting (Langella excels) writing, photography, and several twists and turns which keep the audience guessing. Susan Sarandon plays opposite Langella and is skillful portraying a librarian with a robot helper. Rounding out the exemplary cast are James Marsden, Jeremy Strong and Liv Tyler. Jake Schreier directs. The film was met with good reviews at the Sundance Film Festival and earned the Alfred P. Sloan prize. “Robot and Frank” is rated PG-13 and at the Varsity Theater in Des Moines.



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