Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

"Robot and Frank": When Good Helper-Bots Go Bad 

Wednesday, Aug 22 2012

A more hopeful reimagining of 2001's portrait of man-machine relations, Robot & Frank envisions a near future in which automated servants aid the elderly in their twilight years. For retired cat burglar Frank (Frank Langella), memory loss is something to be denied, and the robot (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard) with which he's saddled by his son Hunter (James Marsden) is an intruder to be hated — until, that is, he discovers that his mechanical assistant is willing to be trained as his thieving accomplice. Jake Schreier's film charts their burgeoning friendship — which comes to include heists and cover-ups of an alternately sly and clumsy sort — with an attention to its protagonist's need for a companion who, unlike Hunter and activist daughter Madison (Liv Tyler), will listen to and acknowledge him for who he is. Even with regards to a nicely underplayed climactic revelation, the sentimental drama is more attuned to issues of acceptance and self-reflection than actual suspense, and Sarsgaard's vocal performance deftly colors his preprogrammed remoteness with hints of human curiosity and deviousness. It's Langella, however, who ultimately props up this borderline-schmaltzy character study, exhibiting a heartbreaking sense of destabilization and confusion that nonetheless can't quite quell his indomitable criminal — and profane cranky-old-man — spirit.

About The Author

Nick Schager


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment


  • Jack White at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
    Jack White and his band performed at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on Friday and Saturday nights in front of sold out audiences. Jack entertained his fans with music that included songs from his days with The White Stripes, and The Raconteurs, as well as hits from his solo albums; Blunderbuss and Lazaretto. Photography by Sugarwolf.
  • San Francisco Street Food Festival 2014
    The San Francisco Street Food Festival was another success this year. Dozens of vendors with original, unheard-of creations, such as deep fried mac and cheese on a stick, black pea paste pancakes, and Korean quesadillas. Then there was the comfort foods we've grown accustomed to, like creme bruleé, shrimp rolls, and pound cake. Photographs by Mabel Jimenez.

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed