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DVD Review

DVD cover

Robot & Frank


Starring: Frank Langella, James Marsden, Liv Tyler and Susan Sarandon
Distributor: Entertainment One
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 12
Release Date: 15 July 2013

Frank (Frank Langella) is a man in his senior years who is suffering from memory problems. A retired cat burglar, Frank has two grown children who don't live nearby. His daughter (Liv Tyler) is constantly abroad doing charitable work, while his son (James Marsden) is too busy running his own business to keep driving over to see his father every weekend. To solve the problem of leaving Frank on his own to slowly fall apart, his son buys him the latest experimental robot to act as a companion to Frank, as well as cook and clean for him. The Robot is programmed to keep Frank's mind active and help him eat and healthily. While Frank initially resists the robot's help, he soon realises that it could actually help him pull off another heist...

Set in the near future (a future that sees some people driving odd looking, futuristic cars while others drive familiar cars that only appear to differ from today's vehicles by the fact they look a little beaten up) Robot & Frank is supposed to be a heartwarming comedy which never really delivers what it promises. It's a shame, because inside what we end up with, is a great movie desperate to get out.

The entire film rests on the shoulders of Langella to provide a likeable character in Frank. Sadly, and I'm blaming the writing and directing here because even the great Susan Sarandon's performance is below par, I never really warmed to Frank - although I have to admit I did warm to the Robot. In fact, I thought that all of the acting was a little flat - even the usually solid Liv Tyler came across as though she was delivering a poor drama student's audition.

The main problem is with the writing, the characters are a little too two-dimensional and Jeremy Strong's portrayal as the cheesy villain of the film was so OTT I was expecting him to grow a moustache, just so he could twirl the corners of it, in the final act.

The design of the Robot is very close to the Honda ASIMO (which was created in 2000) and its voice (provided by Peter Sarsgaard) is a wonderful blend of technologically cold, with a little twist of humanity to make you believe that its real.

Extras include an audio commentary with the director and screenwriter; an interview with the director and Langella (5 min, 24 sec); and the trailer.

I know I'm in the minority, as online reviews of the movie have almost universally been positive, but I just thought that it could have been a much more amusing and touching film than what was finally delivered.


Nick Smithson

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