"Wasn't that wonderful?"

I looked over from the bathroom sink where I was washing my hands after the Robot & Frank screening. The not-quite-elderly woman a few feet away was reapplying mascara to her already made-up face. She had short-cropped hair a shade of red not found in nature and was wearing a dreamy expression on her face. I smiled and nodded.

"You should have seen him when he was younger! He was sinfully handsome," she continued. "And Susan Sarandon got to kiss him!"

The "him" in question was the titular Frank, actor Frank Langella. And given his still handsome brown eyes and broad-shouldered portrayal of a doddering old man in Robot & Frank, I had no reason to doubt her assessment of his younger beauty. A vet of both stage and screen, Langella's most recent role is that of an aging jewel thief struggling with the onset of dementia. The one highlight of his day is his visit the local library to get books and flirt with bright-eyed Jennifer (Susan Sarandon), the only remaining flesh-and-blood librarian in the increasingly automated joint.

By situating the movie in the near future, the filmmakers create for the audience an experience similar to Frank's own disorientation. In this IKEA pastoral sketch of the world on the horizon, everything is familiar, but more sleek—the phones, the cars, and the hipsters. Plus, robotic helpers can be found in libraries and are becoming the caretakers of choice for many families looking for help with aging relatives. With Frank slipping in and out of time, his son Hunter (James Marsden) insists on a getting him a robot butler, a VCG-60L to be exact, to keep tabs on him.

This might seem like the set up for a treatise by way of contrast on What It Means to Be Human. But Robot & Frank ...

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Robot & Frank
Our Rating
3 Stars - Good
Average Rating
 
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Mpaa Rating
PG-13 (for some language)
Directed By
Jake Schreier
Run Time
1 hour 29 minutes
Cast
Frank Langella, James Marsden, Liv Tyler, Peter Sarsgaard
Theatre Release
September 19, 2012 by Samuel Goldwyn
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