I saw Robot & Frank a few days back and I was thinking about the story. Is it possible that someday (not too far off) we will be able to have interactive Robots in our lives? Robots that can walk, talk, and interact with humans. I believe this will be a possibility someday. So, today on yahoo, I found an interesting article. The title was: Humanoid robot comes to life. Over forty engineers and scientists are constructing Roboy (that’s what they call the robot) as a tendon-driven robot modeled on human beings. This will stop them from moving in an obvious robotic way. It is said to move almost as elegantly as an actually human. Maybe we’re closer than I originally thought… Anyway, on to the movie at hand. The title pretty much says it all; Robot & Frank deals with a relationship formed by an elderly man and a robot.
Frank (Frank Langella) is an elderly man who is showing serious signs of senility. His son, Hunter (James Marsden), has been taking notice of this fact. So, Hunter buys his father a helper robot (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard) to help him out. Keep an eye on what he does, cook, help around the house, plan Frank’s day, and all that stuff. Frank does not like the idea, but grudgingly accepts. Overtime, Frank starts to enjoy the Robots company. In the past, Frank was a jewel thief. He still shoplifts occasionally. His robot helps him one day not knowing what was actually going on. This gives Frank an idea. With the robot’s help, he plans a few local heists. Frank comes to bond with the robot in a way he never could have expected. They have bonded by breaking the law. The question, is will it catch up with them?
The biggest issue that constantly hinders the movie is the pacing. Going in, I knew this wasn’t going to be fast paced; more of a slow character piece. I like movies that take that route. However, it’s not an easy task to pull off. I was interested in the story and the relationship between the man and the robot. But, things would drag heavily at times. It would just focus on Frank sitting and looking for far too long. I did like the character, but it takes a little while for you to warm up to him. So, near the beginning we just see him doing little things with no dialog. We don’t get to know him until about mid-way. So, during that time it can be a tad tedious. During the slow paced parts, there is no dialog. That’s what hinders everything. It does string together some great scenes near the end, still.
The screenplay had its good and bad elements. The best thing is easily the relationship between the robot and Frank. All the familiar steps happen to strengthen their bond. Here, though, it felt even more special than usual – credit the script for delivering some truly great scenes between them. You buy their relationship 100%. It was fascinating watching the two of them interact on screen. The story could get off track. When the central plot was in focus, that’s when the movie was at it’s best. The stuff with Frank’s kids weren’t bad. They were simply cliched. Comedy is scarce, but when a joke popped up, it was followed by a laugh. I did think the message on confronting old age was handled nicely as well. This is Christopher D. Ford first screenplay. Seeing the bight spots, Ford has potential.
Acting was consistently solid the entire time. Frank Langella does a fine job. He’s been in many supporting roles of the years; never got a big one where he could shine, though. This was a good role for him. He has an ample amount of screen time. Langella keeps the character interesting enough to where you never get bored with him. In certain instances, things come off a bit flat. Overall, Langella really did a good job. I’ve seen a lot Susan Sarandon over the past over the course of 2012. That’s not a bad thing. She did a great job in Jeff Who Lives at Home, Arbitrage, Cloud Atlas, and now Robot & Frank. Sarandon doesn’t have loads to do, but makes the best with what she is given. 2012 was an excellent year for her. Peter Sarsgaard does a splendid job voicing the robot. Not Kevin Spacey good. Still, close. James Marsden and Liv Tyler fill their respective supporting roles well.
There is defiantly room for improvement for Jake Schreier. However, for his directional debut, he showed some real promise. Schreir has to work on pacing, atmosphere (often a scene wouldn’t have the right mood for what it was trying to convey), and to perfect camera angles (weird angles would distract me a bit throughout). I look forward to what Schreir tackles next.
Many aspects would pull me in, while others would pull me out. I do believe this is very interesting despite some things going against it. If you want to watch something a little different – almost like a slow buddy film, then do see Robot and Frank.