Sundance Journal: ‘Robot & Frank’

While the Sundance Film Festival is held mostly in Park City, a large number of screenings are also held in Salt Lake City and three other Northern Utah locations. To celebrate the festival’s opening in Salt Lake City, an opening night gala screening was held on Friday, the day after the festival kicked off in Park City. ‘Robot & Frank’ was this year’s Gala selection.

Frank Langella stars as the Frank, a single, senile and mischievous old man who’s losing his mind. Since he lives more than five hours away from his nearest kid, he has nobody nearby to watch after him. His house is a disaster. Frank often walks to town to check out books from the library, flirt with the librarian (Susan Sarandon), shoplift petty objects and have lunch at his favorite diner – which he always forgets hasn’t been around in many years. Sometimes he even thinks that his kids are still in college and that his wife never left him. Because his condition seems to be getting worse, his son Hunter (James Marsden) buys him a domestic robot. If you can’t tell, this film is set in “the near future.”

Robot (voiced by Peter Saarsgard) keeps a watchful eye on Frank and makes him follow a strict diet and exercising regiment. Frank begins to loathe the little bugger. But when he learns that Robot is capable of being coerced into doing things outside his normal tasks, Frank uses Robot to relive his glory days – as a cat burglar. With Frank’s ability to case a location and Robot’s quick ability to crack locks, the geriatric/robotic heisting begins – that is, if his anti-robot daughter Madison (Liv Tyler) doesn’t ruin everything for him.

While ‘Robot & Frank’ isn’t the best film to come out of Sundance, it sure is a fun, lightweight and entertaining one. It’s a crowd-pleaser, the type of film that rarely comes out of Sundance. It won’t get tons of praise (since it’s not trying to be edgy), but it’ll hold your attention and keep you entertained.

Rating: ★★★½☆

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