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EW Movie Review: "Robot & Frank"

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The new movie "Robot & Frank" tells the tale of an old man who befriends a robot housekeeper that his son buys for him. Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman filed the following review for NY1.

The new movie "Robot & Frank" is sentimental high-concept fluff that works. It’s set in a not-so-distant future, which looks a lot like the present except that there are funny cars and robots.

The movie stars Frank Langella, who is such a fantastic actor that he couldn’t hit a false note in a Windex commercial. He plays a lonely old man named Frank who is losing his memory and spends his time puttering around his cozy, messy home in Cold Spring, N.Y.

Frank is depressed but he’s also a former cat burglar who served years in prison and hasn’t lost his wily, amoral spirit. When his son, played by James Marsden, buys him a robot housekeeper, he’s annoyed at first, but then he makes the droid his assistant and comrade, using him as a partner on late-night burglaries.

The robot looks like a retro version of a space-age contraption from the 1960s and he sounds a lot like HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey. His voice is by Peter Sarsgaard. Yet the smartest thing director Jake Schreier did was to not make the robot adorably anthropomorphic. He doesn’t start to say cute and witty things, or to develop a “personality.” He really is a machine, programmed in every response. He and Frank become friends because neither of them can quite connect to anyone else.

Frank Langella brings the movie a gruff magic, giving Frank glints of anger and despair that dry out what might have been a tritely annoying buddy movie. "Robot & Frank" putters along, sort of like Frank, but it also delighted and touched me.

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