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'Robot & Frank' is offbeat look at friendship
Showtime with Sasha
Frank Langella plays a retired thief whose children buy a robot to look after him. - photo by Studio photo

When I first saw the trailer for the film I’m reviewing today, I could not wait to see it.
It took some time, but “Robot & Frank” now is on home video. The film is set in the near future, but don’t let that intimidate you. Life scarcely has changed.
Frank Langella stars as Frank, an aging former jewel thief struggling with depression and dementia. His two children are Madison (Liv Tyler), a globe-trotting philanthropist, and Hunter (James Marsden), a family man too busy to consistently visit his father.
During one visit, Hunter delivers a solution to the problem. He brings a robot “butler” to take care of Frank. Stubbornly, Frank does not cooperate at first with Robot’s attempts to feed him healthy food or give him stimulating new hobbies.
As their unique relationship develops, however, Frank’s mind is stimulated by teaching Robot the finer points of cat burglary.
“Robot & Frank” is an elegant film, not too heavy and not too light. Before you know it, the characters are tugging at your heart strings. Langella’s work is effortless and nice to watch. Peter Saarsgard voices Robot and makes us fall in love without ever deviating from being a robot. Though Saarsgard isn’t onscreen, this has got to be my all-time favorite role of his.
Robot and Frank are darling together, but I don’t want you to think this is a cutesy story, because it’s not. In the hands of the wrong director, it could have been sappy. But newcomer Jake Schreier does a bang-up job. The ending was a little bittersweet; I might have handled it a bit differently myself. Though I’d characterize the picture as a drama, there were many funny moments.
It could be a little slow-moving for some tastes — but not for mine! I’m a fan.

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