Robot & Frank

My gran's got that wallpaper. True story.

My gran’s got that wallpaper. True story.

Robot? That lasagna was divine. Now, when you’re done with the washing-up I need you to write a review for this film. There’s a good chap.

Ok, so that may be a bit far fetched (robot hands don’t have nimble enough fingers. Yet) but this depiction of how our metallic mates could be our babysitters in the eve of our lives makes the idea pretty plausible.

Often films like these present technology as terrifying  threats that create our eventual demise at the sacrifice of our independence (or once we  lose the remote down the back of the flying sofa), yet this soft sci-fi gently deals with the pros and cons of forming relations with our computerized comrades.

He trains it to be more obedient to his own whims and less compliant to the law as he revisits his criminal pastimes with his new toy as a wingman (or should that be wingbot?)

In the red corner, we have Frank’s (Frank Langella) overly handsome son Hunter (James Marsden) who looks like he’d know exactly which vino would go well with a halibut fillet. He breezes in this cubic friend (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard) to help his ageing father but is met with the same face I last saw when I gave my dad a Soda Stream – very nice dear but I can fart in my own Ribena, thanks.


Space Hoppers were more fun in the good old days

In the blue corner, we have his daughter Madison (Liv Tyler) the nomadic traditionalist. She may be using her transparent phone to beam her undeniably beautiful face across her father’s walls in-between her do-gooding globetrotting, but she’s wearing a scarf around her head (how respectfully ethnic), the reception is bad (yes even in the future the ‘third world‘ still haven‘t got fibre optic cables) and if you think dungarees will be out of fashion in 3000-and-something, think again. Liv’s wearing them with pride. And they’re not even silver. It’s no surprise that Madison is no fan of this technological tomfoolery..

livtyler-robot and frank

He’s behind you…

Despite a bristly start, grumpy Frank soon reconsiders his unwanted guest once he discovers he’s more useful than an over enthusiastic alarm clock that can conduct an enima. He trains it to be more obedient to his own whims and less compliant to the law as he revisits his criminal pastimes with his new toy as a wingman (or should that be wingbot?). But despite Robot’s ability to learn new tricks, he is unable to calculate compassion and this blossoming relationship soon meets adversities.

It’s pretty obvious, but Frank & Robot grapples with our relations and reliance on our programmed pals and highlights our tendency to develop feelings for things that make our lives easier – we’re only human.

The cast is cozier than a cup of tea and a Hobnob but it’s Susan Sarandon and Frank that steer the enjoyment of this film leaving Liv and James looking a little meek, which is ironic given the film hints at age being a disadvantage. Although pleasant and slightly thought provoking, it felt like a dramatic affirmation that should have had you throwing your iPad into the canal en-route home was somewhat missed and we’re still none the wiser of if robot butlers are a good or a bad thing, but then don’t let Hollywood decide, that one’s for you to compute.


Director: Jake Schreier

Released: March 2013

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