Hello everyone, and welcome to 111 Archer Avenue. What started as a film review blog has become my online judgment forum. I will review the occasional movie or DVD, post an interesting trailer, critique a newly-read book, talk about sports, and share my thoughts and opinions on random issues. You can also follow me on Twitter (@OlieCoen) or check out my work on DVDTalk.com. Thank you and enjoy!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Movie Review - Robot & Frank

Director: Jake Schreier
Starring: Frank Langella, Peter Sarsgaard, Susan Sarandon
Year: 2012

The cool thing about a movie like this is that we're not too far away from it really happening.  Ever since Isaac Asimov we've been toying with the idea of robots, wondering how they'll fit into our lives once the technology is there to make them quasi-human.  And we're getting closer and closer, nearer to the day when robots will walk among us.  And so, when that time comes, how will these artificially intelligent beings slide into place, or will they?  Robot & Frank is by no means a sci-fi film about the future of robotics; it's basically a movie about growing old and feeling alone.  But it does raise of lot of interesting questions about the relationship between man and his machine, a bond that can be very beneficial but one that can also be ill-used.

Frank is an elderly man living alone.  Once a jewel thief, he now spends his time sitting in his dark house and walking to the nearby library.  His wife has left him, his son & daughter are grown, and his memory is beginning to fail slowly but steadily.  In order to take care of him, Frank's son buys him a robot, a state-of-the-art helper and aid.  The robot's job is to take care of Frank's health, to give him a hobby, to keep his mind from slipping completely away.  But to Frank, the robot has another function.  It is the perfect robbery companion; endless skills, no morals, incredibly strong.  And so Frank & his robot pal begin a new project together, a heist that might not cripple an empire but one that might just revitalize the life of an old, lonely man.

It's not a great sign that the robot was the best part of the film, and probably the best actor too.  Maybe it's just because I love sci-fi, but that's the storyline that stuck with me the most, Frank's friendship with the machine and his attempt to make it more than just an appliance.  There were a lot of other themes in the film; aging, family, death, purpose.  But none of those were well-delivered, they all came across a little sappy.  The acting didn't help I guess.  Not that it was terrible, but Frank Lengella was just OK and his co-stars were kinda bad: Susan Sarandon, James Marsden, Liv Tyler.  And so when the emotions were running hot I never really felt it and I kept wishing that I was just watching Her again instead.  That's not really this film's fault, and I'm not trying to call it awful.  It was just a mediocre movie with an interesting story that I'm not going to think about for long.

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰

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