'Robot & Frank' asks: What if Asimo were your nurse?

Is this what old age looks like in the 21st century? In a new movie, Frank Langella plays an ex-thief who has to put up with a busybody robot nurse.

Frank Langella stars as the unwilling object of cybernetic care in "Robot & Frank." Park Pictures

A roboticist I know was on a train in Japan when an elderly lady asked him what he did for a living. When he said he builds robots, she smiled and told him she can't wait until she gets a robot nurse.

That isn't how we all hope to live out our final years. Certainly not Frank, a cranky ex-thief who finds himself in the unwanted care of an Asimo-esque robot nurse in the independent movie "Robot & Frank."

The Jake Schreier-helmed feature just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won over critics with its quirky charm. It was based on a short-film idea from Christopher D. Ford, who penned the screenplay.

Starring Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon, Liv Tyler, and James Marsden, it's set in the near future and explores the comedic possibilities of mixing the unwilling, curmudgeonly Frank with the irrepressible VGC-60L (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard), which is dedicated to making him exercise and eat healthier breakfasts.


With dementia eating away his mind, Frank (Langella) won't admit it, but he needs care at home. When his estranged son Hunter (Marsden) shows up with a humanoid robot, he's less than enthused. "That thing is going to murder me in my sleep," he spits.

But the story takes one of several twists when the old cat burglar decides to teach the robot how to pick locks. He also gets it to join him on one last heist run. Freed from the boredom of senescence, Frank's life suddenly starts to turn around.

Studio buyers apparently have shown strong interest in "Robot & Frank," and I hope it scores some real distribution. In the meantime, check out the above clip from the film.

 

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