Robot and Frank – 4 stars

Frank Langella lives alone in the country a few hours from New York City.  He is slowly succumbing to Alzheimer’s, functional but slipping, and at first, appears to be little more than a forgetful, petty thief of decorative soaps sold in the town’s gift shop.  When his son (James Marsden) brings him a robot for company and guidance, we learn that Langella was once a second story burglar who did two stints in prison.  He loathes the robot until he learns it has no conscience.  A friendship develops, and soon, the robot is acting as his accomplice in a jewel heist.

The movie is clever, often touching, and a bit subversive.  There is a hilarious section where Langella’s anti-robot daughter (Liv Tyler) visits.  Horrified at her father’s reliance on the robot, she turns it off, only to surreptitiously turn it on when she wants the house cleaned.

Though the film is set in the not too distant future, the credits are accompanied by clips of the work robots are currently doing (or being designed to do) for humans, and the future is now.

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