Movie Review: Robot and Frank


It is the near future and Frank is in trouble.  His children are worried about him and for good reason Frank appears to have the first stages of Alzheimer’s disease.  He leaves the stove on and forgets to eat or clean.  His house is a mess. 

Frank’s daughter contacts her brother and he reluctantly goes over to Frank’s house.   When he gets there he tells Frank that he has to have someone or something to take care of him.  In saying that he pulls what looks like a five foot spaceman out of his car.  It is a helping robot and it’s been programmed to take care of  Frank.  And Frank can’t shut it off.

Frank is of course reluctant he wants his freedom and this is an imposition.  The robot won’t let him eat sugary cereal for breakfast, no he has to eat something nutritious, the robot cleans, gardens and finally starts to win Frank over. 

But there is something else about Frank, Frank is a retired thief, well semi-retired he likes to keep his hand in by shoplifting curios from a local knick knack shop.  But he gets caught all the time.  And then Frank notices that the robot hasn’t any morals.  Well maybe it follows Asimov’s three laws but nothing else.  So Frank teaches it to steal.

This movie has it’s roots in what is currently happening in Japan.  The lack of children to take care of the older generation has forced them to develop robots to help the elderly cope.  Also it reflects the lack of desire for children to really have to deal with parents who have diseases such as Alzheimer’s.  Instead looking to technology to solve their problems. 

It also seems to portray the idea that robotic artificial intelligence  will progress to a near human level to the point where in the film the robot seems to imitate human emotions. 

This film gave me conflicted emotions, the attitude of the children toward their father tended to anger me and of course that was contrived I was supposed to feel something for a five foot tall astronaut-like figure that speaks with a calming voice all the time. Even when it is trying to convince Frank that his recorded memory could be used to convict him or robbery.   

Also the futurist view that looks  to technology to fix societies problems has it’s own inherent flaws.  Technology has it’s limits and human interaction still needs a human to interact.  This was made obvious when Frank introduced his robot to another and wondered why they didn’t start interacting.  When he was told that they had nothing to say to each other he asked what would happen if all humans disappeared.  The answer was interesting and disturbing. 

Go rent Robot and Frank I give it five transistors out of five.