An indie sci-fi film from 2012 directed by Jake Schreier and written by Christopher Ford, starring Frank Langella
, Susan Sarandon
, James Marsden
and Liv Tyler
. The film first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival 2012 and is the winner of the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize.
Frank is a retired thief and con man living a quiet life in small town in the near future
, when his son bestows him a Robot Buddy
to help him. Despite his initial indifference to the robot, Frank eventually warms up to it. Meanwhile, the town library is being reformatted, the old paper books are being replaced and old librarian fired in lieu of a "Augmented Reality
library experience". Frank decides to teach his new friend all the old tricks he knew about crime and together they perform a series of capers.
Tropes appearing in this movie:
- Adult Fear: Growing old, on your own, and your memory failing; or having a parent who is doing so.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Frank thinks so anyway, and initially believes that it'll kill him in his sleep.
- Artistic License-Law: At no point in his investigation of Frank does the sheriff display a warrant. Jake claims they have probable cause, but that is somewhat doubtful. Also, it seems unlikely that the police would allow a victim of a crime to accompany and assist with the investigation of a suspect
- Asshole Victim: Jake. He is patronising to Frank, is turning the library into a multi-media Augmented Reality experience, and makes a living as "a consultant, whatever that is."
- Beneath Suspicion: Frank at first, as the sheriff thinks he's much too old to pull off such a complicated job by himself.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Jake, the sponsor.
- The Caper
- Chekhov's Gag: The Self-Destruct Mechanism. When some kids are poking at the robot early on, Frank tells him to say "Initiating self-destruct" and then count down from ten. When the police bust Frank's house and decide to download the robot's memory it does exactly that and scares the cops into fleeing.
- Con Man: Frank is a retired one.
- December-December Romance: Frank and Jennifer the librarian. Subverted in the end.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: When the robot [[spoiler: has his memory erased, it looks like he's dying.
- Do Androids Dream?: In the beginning, Frank's robot tell him that, if he fails, he'll be sent back to the factory to get his mind erased, which he hopes to avoid. It's later revealed the robot doesn't care about his memories, he just said that to coerce Frank. As he himself points out, he's not really alive, just an advanced simulation.
- Downer Ending: Holy crap. The robot gets his memory erased and Frank gets put into a home. Though he does seem to have a relationship with his wife again.
- Establishing Character Moment: The beginning scene shows the audience Frank's two major characteristics: we see him robbing a house at night, revealing his role as a catburgler. But then it's revealed through a framed picture that he's "robbing" his own house in a moment of dementia.
- Everything Is Online: Frank downloads the plans of the house he wants to burgle from the architect's website.
- Friendly Enemy: The sheriff is basically a fanboy of Frank's previous criminal exploits. He even asks Frank to come on as a consultant to catch the criminal burglarizing the neighborhood (who is of course Frank and the robot) He's also Genre Savvy enough to put Frank's house under surveillance immediately after talking to Frank and seeing that the Robot can move quickly and precisely
- Foreshadowing: Pretty much everything involving the reveal that Frank's ex-wife is the librarian. When first introducing Frank to his robot, Hunter says that his mother already has a robot. Frank offhandedly mentions a redhead he did a job for that he normally refused. And the book that Frank stole from the library? Don Quixote.
- Granola Girl: Madison, Frank's daughter is an active campaigner against robot work and travels to third-world countries organizing microfinance projects.
- Grumpy Old Man: Frank, at first.
- Heroic Sacrifice: an unusual example, where the robot insists on having his memory wiped, so it can't be used to incriminate Frank.
- Hypocrite: Frank's daughter, who is against using robots, eventually gives in and turns Frank's back on to clean the kitchen (after he makes a truly incredible mess to force her to do just that).
- It's All About Me: When Hunter tells Frank "I don't want you dying alone out here to be one more thing that's my fault." He isn't worried about Frank dying alone, but about being blamed for it.
- Just a Machine: Frank insists that the robot is his friend, but his kids act like he's just a machine and the robot keeps reminding Frank that he's "not a real person". Frank gets angry when Madison treats the robot like a slave rather than a person.
- Manipulative Bastard: Frank can be one towards his own kids.
- Name and Name
- New Old Flame: Frank and Jennifer, though he didn't remember.
- Obfuscating Insanity: What Frank claims he has regarding his Alzheimer's disease.
- Odd Couple: The titular Frank and robot
- One Last Job: Averted. Frank wants to use the robot for more than one job - burglary is much more stimulating than gardening. He meant to retire at 30, but was then imprisoned for tax evasion.
- Robo Speak: Mr. Darcy, the librarian robot.
- Robot Buddy
- Satellite Love Interest: Jennifer, for a while. Until it's revealed that she's actually Frank's long-divorced wife. He'd forgotten all about her.
- Self-Destruct Mechanism: Parodied.
- The library robot is named Mr Darcy
- The robot wiping his memory for his human companion is very reminiscent of the ending of Moon.
- The Password Is Always Swordfish: Madison turns the robot off by whispering its password to it. She won't tell Frank the password, but he expects that it will be something simple like 1-2-3-4.
- Twenty Minutes into the Future: The opening titles give the date as "The near future." Robot is far ahead of anything that we can make now, but otherwise things don't look too different from 2012.
- Villain Protagonist: Arguably Frank is this, being a former criminal who uses his robot to reignite his criminal career. In the end he pretty much manages to get away with everything too.
- Wham Line: "Is that you? Is that me?"
- What the Hell, Hero?: Hunter to Frank when he finds out he's been stealing again.