Movie review: Robot & Frank

By Columbus Alive
From the September 9, 2012 edition

“Robot & Frank” is a sweet, moving little movie about a future that’s not particularly dystopian. How’s that for a change of pace?

Hell, even the future of Pixar’s “WALL-E” was depressing, so it’s nice to think that our near future may not be all that bad.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s still bittersweet, but it’s not all the future’s fault.

In the “near future,” Frank (Frank Langella) is a retiree living in sleepy upstate New York. His son Hunter (James Marsden) is concerned about his ability to care for himself — Frank’s mental and physical health are on the decline.

Hunter’s solution comes in robot form, as he presents Frank with a mechanical helper … much to the old man’s chagrin.

Frank soon comes to find his robot butler isn’t so bad, and he devises unintended ways to use it.

“Robot & Frank” is one of those “little movies that could” that I find a hard time rooting against, even if it’s got some dents. It’s a simple, warm and altogether human story.

Langella’s performance carries the film. It’s inevitable that the lonely old man will develop an affinity for his robot companion (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard), but he plays it perfectly.

It’s both quite funny and eventually quite moving — think “Lars & the Real Girl” meets “Driving Miss Daisy.”

It’s also nice to know that the robots will be our friends until the day decide to destroy us all. Sleep tight, old people!