A warm drama that drifts into light, goofy comedy, this film is too slight to be a classic, but its subtly sharp-edged script holds our interest and gives the cast something to work with. Frequently very funny, this is much more than just a story of an old man with a robotic sidekick, as it explores jagged family relationships and even features a lively caper subplot.
At the centre is Frank (Langella), who doesn't want to leave the rural home where he raised his now-adult children (Marsden and Tyler). Even as they have their own lives far away, they worry about him living alone, so his son buys him a robot assistant (voiced by Sarsgaard) whose only mission is to look after Frank's mental and physical health. Frank dismissively names it "Robot" and tries to ignore it until he realises that its prime directive allows it to help him secretly relaunch his cat-burgling career. His first target is to rescue the town library run by his old friend Jennifer (Sarandon), which is about to be turned into a high-tech social centre by a young businessman (Strong).
Director Shreier keeps the film's pace gentle, underplaying both the comedy and suspense while letting Langella indulge in an enjoyably grumpy scene-stealing performance. Frank may be losing his memory, but he is still sharp as a tack when it comes to planning a heist, especially with the help of Robot. And watching him build up the confidence to pursue Jennifer is enjoyable as well. Meanwhile, Sarsgaard nods to 2001's Hal in the way he invests Robot with deadpan humour and emotion. By comparison, none of the side characters has much to do since they haven't a clue about what Frank is up to.
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