COMIC DRAMA; 1hr 29min
STARRING: Frank Langella, James Marsden, Liv Tyler
Helping hand: Langella
Retired cat burglar Frank (Langella) is getting on and getting vaguer. His grown children (Marsden and Tyler as Hunter and Madison) are concerned, and this being sometime in the foreseeable future, Hunter’s solution is to buy his father a caretaking robot (precisely voiced by Peter Sarsgaard). Mulish Frank is unimpressed. “That thing is gonna murder me in my sleep,” he says ungraciously. Little by little, though, the unfailingly courteous bot wins him over, especially after Frank discovers that it hasn’t been morally programmed re stealing. Not only that, but it can also pick locks. Gold!
At Frank’s urging, the two become the planet’s most unusual buddies in crime, but Robot & Frank — the feature-film debut of director Jake Schreier and screenwriter Christopher Ford — isn’t all fun and games. Frank’s relationship with his son is troubled, and he is, after all, an old and failing man. As the glue that holds these nuts and bolts together, Langella is consistently terrific in every scene. It’s through him that this moving little treasure creeps up on your emotions with the stealthy unexpectedness of a thief in the night.