Robot and Frank (2012)


Robot and Frank (2012)I was originally excited to finally catch Robot and Frank (2012) after seeing the trailer a few years back. Not being able to catch it until now. It looked fun, and an interesting idea really, pairing an elderly man Frank Langella as retired Frank and a robot carer (Peter Sarsgaard). What turned out to be a sci-fi comedy for the grey pound. Still it made me laugh…sometimes. I found Robot and Frank too gentle at times, which I’ll explain as I continue. 

I get the premise of independence its stated very early on in Frank’s resistance to all things technology. When he visits the library he’s about the only one keeping the place open really, and keeping Jennifer (Susan Sarandon) in a job, as a transformation jus taking place. It’s not another closure of a library, it’s the next step in public record keeping and our access to it. It’s not very exciting either. Set in the not too distant future, it’s only the young who really embrace technology, which is nothing new really new. Maybe I’m too young for this film to see it for what it really is. Or is it just not building up a strong enough image of the future that I can imagine it beyond the subtle technology that as incredible as it is, is still flawed. 

With all this technology in the picture Frank’s son Hunter (James Marsden) who’s starting to go out of his mind with worry brings the worst possible aid for his dad, a robot, who I thought was voiced by Kevin Spacey which got me thinking that he’s got a real niche for robots and computers. To my surprise it was Peter Sarsgaard who filled in that role who brings more charm to the walking technological aid that takes on the role of carer and ultimately partner in crime. It’s a relationship built on resistance before understanding moves in that sees these two men (one made from microchips) as Frank a small time thief has another go at the big time. 

The comedy really only comes from Frank’s mumblings and negativity, and it gets boring after half an hour or so. The dynamic between the father and his two grown up children is only slightly better but not played for laughs. Its like Hunter and his sister Madison (Liv Tyler) want the best for him yet can’t agree and you don’t feel it. They never really fight, they squabble for one scene and its over. There is a sense that technology can isolate you, with a video phone is both engaging yet shows how disconnected Franks children really are from him. The inclusion of Jennifer is underplayed and mis-cast really. Seen as a love-interest before a strange twist at the end which really throws the film off-balance. I feel that both Langella and Sarandon have both been mis-cast really, not looking as old as they should be on-screen, unless we are supposed to age better in the future. 

Now because of the build up after the big robbery it seems that Frank has lost his mind. What could be seen as a last break for freedom and independence is turned into the downfall into a care home. We are lead to believe that Frank has a form of dementia, might just be old age and a bit of memory loss, when you see what he gives his son at the end of the film it doesn’t add up. What Robot and Frank is trying to say that technology is not the way forward, in looking after the elderly. In fact its message is pretty confused, at one point man relies on technology, becoming his best friend. Nothing really adds up, there are strands started but never seen through with a few laughs here and there. Leaving us wondering if the future looks any brighter for how we care for the elderly, for me it looks the same as it does today, so much for progress.  

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