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"You win, I'll eat the steamed cauliflower. I win, you make me a damn cheeseburger."
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 Weld is a retired thief and con man living a quiet life in small town in the near future, slowly succumbing to a combination of boredom, loneliness, and the onset of Alzheimer's. To address the situation, his son Hunter bestows upon him a robot living assistant to help take care of him. Despite his initial antagonism towards Robot, Frank eventually warms up to it as he realizes it can be easily manipulated to his will. 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 Robot will 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.
Chekhov's Gag: The Self-Destruct Mechanism. When some kids are poking at 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 Robot's memory, it does exactly that and scares the cops into fleeing.
Do Androids Dream?: In the beginning, Robot tells Frank that, if it fails to care for Frank, it will be sent back to the factory to get its mind erased, which it hopes to avoid. It's later revealed that Robot doesn't care about its memories, it just said that to coerce Frank into cooperating. As Robot itself points out, it's not really alive, but just an advanced simulation.
Downer Ending: Holy crap. 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.
Gentleman Thief: Although Frank is not particularly classy or refined, he does show aspects of this archetype, such as his meticulous research before each job and his insistence that only "those insurance company crooks" will get hurt from his heists.
Granola Girl: Madison, Frank's daughter is an active campaigner against robot work and travels to third-world countries organizing microfinance projects.
Heroic Sacrifice: an unusual example, where Robot insists on having its 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 robot 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 Robot is his friend, but his kids act like it's just a machine, and 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.