Robot & Frank Movie Review: Questions About Technology and Human Attachment Loom Large in New Jake Schreier Film

Frank and Robot, a new movie by Jake Schreier that opens nationwide on Friday, August 23, aims to question our ever-growing dependency and relationship on technology in a new, comical and sometimes heartbreaking story. The movie focuses on an aging man facing dementia with the name of Frank, played by Frank Langella, and his robot assistant given to him by his concerned adult son. The elderly man is a jewel thief who cunningly convinces the robot to stage heists with him and the two become a team as they steal from the local library and an annoying, arrogant neighbor.

Since the film takes place in the not-so-distant future, one of the biggest concepts considered is our ever growing relationship and dependency on technology. It isn’t an original idea, but it is presented in an entertaining and relatable way. Smart cars are a little bit sleeker, phones are a little bit cooler, and personal assistants like Siri have taken on a new shape in the form of life sized robots. None of these aren’t far-off concepts so it’s easy to latch on to and consider the concept for ourselves as viewers.

While there’s little to no doubt that we are becoming ever more reliant on technology, the main question is how much is too much? And how much attachment to our items is too much?

In the movie, there are characters who disagree with each other on this point. Frank’s son (James Marsden), thinks it’s fine to use and have an attachment to robots, while his sister (Live Tyler) is a lot more wary about forging non-human relationships. It’s seems a lot like our own time where some people are okay with being plugged into their devices 24/7 whereas others are concerned and think it’s going too far… even worried that we are headed in the same direction as the movie, where robots are the new nannies, new best friends, new partners-in-crime.

Although Frank is hesitant of the idea at first, he does accept the robot into his life and even forges a bond as their relationship grows…only to let him go in the end in a heartbreaking turn of events.

The whole movie isn’t focused on the issue of ever-advancing technology, however. In the end we aren’t presented with an explicit answer to that question- that’s up to us as the viewers to to think about and decide for ourselves. What we are left with in the end is a reminder of human vulnerability as we see Frank’s mental state decline completely and are left with the realization that we can’t always protect ourselves from the inevitably of aging, illness and ultimately death.

Parts of the movie do have stretches of disbelief and farfetched ideas that make it hard to buy into it completely. Inconsistencies in Frank’s supposed mental decline and his seemingly cunning tricks and plans are aplenty, and make it hard to be convinced of the dementia. Similarly, the robot’s level of intelligence seems inconsistent at times. Some plot points are hard to follow as well. But even with those few flaws, Frank Lagella’s shining performance, alongside Susan Sarondon, and Peter Saarsgard as the Robot’s voice, succeeds in providing us with a funny, entertaining and charming movie.

Photo Credit – Samuel Goldwyn Films and Stage 6 Films