Well, this is our future: robots and senility. Robots are good, but the other thing not so much…

Featuring

Frank Langella as Frank Weld
James Marsden as Hunter Weld
Liv Tyler as Madison Weld
Susan Sarandon as Jennifer
with Peter Sarsgaard as The Robot

There’s not much to getting old that’s attractive. The sagging, drooping, slowing and the general bodily malfunctions, both physical and mental, can play havoc on a once proud and productive person. It’s also no fun when you’re doing it all alone.

Frank Weld, the eponymous Frank of Robot and Frank, played by Frank Lagella (there’s a Frank playing a Frank in this movie about Frank!) is suffering just this problem. He was a master thief in his youth, going after jewels and other small valuables, though he had been caught a few times during his career, spending time in gaol, rather than with his family.

In his retirement, he chooses to live in his old house, alone and in failing mental health. His son, Hunter comes by once a week, but sees it as a chore and an obligation rather than something that’s time well spent. Madison, Hunter’s sister, spends her time globetrotting and making short video calls to Frank during humanitarian trips. It’s tough for Frank.

To cope, Frank regularly goes into town and visits the library, making friends with Jennifer the librarian and then going off to score a five finger discount at the local bath supply shop. Finally, Hunter gets sick of seeing his father drowning into a life of boredom and depression, especially with his fading memory, so he buys a robot helper. Initially, Frank is reluctant to accept the help, but eventually accepts that it’s a useful addition to his life, especially after he finds other uses for it.

Frank Lagella portrays the dithery old man rapidly losing his marbles brilliantly. His character has moments of brilliance and moments of pure forgetfulness. He doesn’t miss a step and the marble disappearance of old Frank is very well done. The supporting cast is also brilliant, especially Peter Sarsgaard, who gives the robot personality despite it having an opaque black face with no moving parts and develops great witty personality with Frank over the movie. The cast truly belies the small and independent nature of Robot and Frank.

Robot and Frank is a funny, quirky movie about being old and losing it. But it’s also about accepting life, help and change as eventual steps on the journey. Just because you’re old, doesn’t mean you can’t have meaning and adventure in your life. In fact, it’s a sure sign you should still be seeking adventure and meaning, whatever you can reasonably have, not because you need to reclaim your youth, but because life is a precious thing to be enjoyed.

Rating

Sometimes heartwarming, sometimes sad, but always a funny movie.

Should I watch this?

It’s no action movie, but a humourous examination of getting old, keeping one’s own dignity and continuing to strive for a high quality of life. If you don’t mind the slower, gentler kind of story, this is a good.

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