A sign of an effective and touching movie? The viewer wants to be part of that world. Not only will “Robot & Frank” leave you wishing you could have a friendly robot buddy just like Frank’s, but you’ll also leave feeling as though you’ve truly experienced a part of a person’s life, and a part that’s well worth experiencing at that.
In the near future, there’s no need for in-home nursing; caretaker robots assume the responsibility of ensuring elderly clients live healthy and happy day-to-day lives. When Hunter (James Marsden) comes to the conclusion that his father Frank’s (Frank Langella) memory loss has left him unable to care for himself, Hunter buys him a robot. Frank’s furious at first, but soon comes to learn the robot has a lot to offer – maintaining a clean home, cooking tasty and nutritious meals, friendship, and picking locks.
In his younger years, Frank was a jewel thief and longs to relive his glory days. When he figures out that he’s able to manipulate the robot into doing anything as long he can make a case that it’s beneficial to his health, he looks at the robot not only as a caretaker, but a friend and partner in crime.
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I’m all for bizarre and outlandish comedy. When Napoleon Dynamite hit back in 2004, I fell in love. The difference between that film and James Gunn’s Super? Whereas Napoleon Dynamite was innocent silliness, Super is insulting madness. Perhaps the films would be comparable had Napoleon’s Liger jumped off the page and mauled Pedro to death.
Super stars Rainn Wilson as Frank, a lame loser who happened to get lucky in the romance department and marry Liv Tyler’s character, Sarah. Sure enough, Frank’s luck runs dry and Sarah’s drug addiction creeps back into the picture along with a sleazy dealer name Jacques (Kevin Bacon). When Sarah leaves him for Jacques, Frank breaks down. He wants to get her back, but has no chance with Jacques and his goons in his way. Frank comes to the conclusion that the only way he can fight back is as someone else, as a super hero and so the Crimson Bolt is born.
When the Crimson Bolt isn’t plotting against Jacques, he’s fighting a variety of crimes ranging from child molestation to “line butting.” His weapon of choice is a massive wrench and rarely thinks twice before using it regardless of the severity of the offense. Eventually a local comic book store employee, Libby (Ellen Page), connects the dots and pegs Frank as the Crimson Bolt. Rather than reveal his secret identity, she begs to join him in his fight against crime as his sidekick, Boltie. Frank reluctantly accepts the offer and together, they forge ahead with Frank’s primary mission, to get his wife back.
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