Robot & Frank is a fun little indie comedy that will probably pass most people by. Set in the “near future” it is about an aging man who is clearly not all there any longer, and his son’s solution is to give him a robot that will take care of him. The central character Frank is played by the wonderfully talented Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon) and is no syrupy sweet old doddering fool or even lovable curmudgeon. He is a full ranging character who is right on that edge of knowing that he is losing it. He has some serious gaps in his memory, but what he does remember are the skills he used as a young man when he was a successful second story man, mostly a jewel thief.

So the robot comes to live with him and Frank is not all that happy about it until he realizes that the robot (who is never given a name) is there to help him with “anything he needs.” And what he needs to keep his mind exercised is a hobby. So he teaches the robot to pick locks, and they pull a little job, stealing a rare book from the library so he can give it to the librarian (Susan Sarandon) he has a crush on. But that one taste leaves him wanting more, like maybe a big jewel heist. And it just so happens that a young, cocky rich guy and his jewel-covered wife place themselves squarely in his sights at a fundraising event that is going to close the library he loves. The gauntlet is thrown when the young putz jokes to Frank, “You’re so square, you’re practically avant-garde.” So Frank and the robot make a deal. He won’t do the job unless he is entirely ready and robot has the final say. And if they do it, Frank has to go on a low sodium diet. So they case the joint for days, and finally it comes off without a hitch. But Frank’s prior life is well known to the police, and he is suspect number one.

I won’t spoil the ending by saying whether he gets away with it, but he and the robot definitely share a special bond. I’ll admit, the premise sounds really hokey, but somehow they pull it off. There were a few moments when the robot reminded me of Hal from 2001, but the filmmakers did a great job of giving it a real character that you could see Frank relating to. Who wouldn’t love to have a non-judgmental butler-ish robot to cook and clean, and keep you on a healthy diet, and do whatever you need, too? I’d recommend this nice little senior moment, jewel heist flick to anyone who has an aging parent or thinks they might ever be one. It has a pretty broad appeal. Langella is great and the film has a lot of very funny moments.

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