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Robot & Frank: movie review

Frank Langella's performance elevates the movie into a character study of a proud man combating his fearfulness.

By Peter RainerFilm critic / August 24, 2012

Frank Langella stars opposite a machine voiced by Peter Sarsgaard in 'Robot & Frank.'

Andrew Burton/Reuters

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It may not seem like an even playing field pitting an actor as powerfully intense as Frank Langella opposite a robot, but that’s the game plan behind the waywardly endearing, slightly futuristic fantasy “Robot & Frank,” directed by Jake Schreier from Christopher Ford’s screenplay.

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Langella plays a not-quite-reformed thief whose son (James Marsden), in order to help the old guy navigate his mostly housebound existence, buys him a five-foot-tall machine that cooks and cleans and purrs (courtesy of Peter Sarsgaard’s voice-over) like HAL in “2001.” Langella’s performance turns what might have been a “Twilight Zone”-style trifle into something more: a movie about a proud, ornery man combating his fearfulness. Grade: B (Rated PG-13 for some language.)

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