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<Movie Details
21 November 2013 by Tim Evans

The brave new world of white hot technology appears to be the elusive panacea for the crippling onset of dementia in the elderly.

At least that's what 70-year-old Frank Weld's son thinks.

Frank's a curmudgeonly pensioner rattling around a clapboard house in rural New England, happy to catch the eye of glamorous librarian Jennifer (Susan Sarandon) while slyly shoplifting trinkets from a souvenir shop as a means of (dis) honouring his previous career as a cat burglar.

However, his memory is slipping and - to avoid the route of putting him in a care home - his yuppie son Hunter (Marsden) hits on the idea of providing him with a robot butler, an android specifically programmed to improve his health with a regime of wholesome food and regular walks.

Frank is initially unnerved by his new helper - voiced like a benevolent HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey by Peter Sarsgaard - but is gradually won over by the robot's kindly programming... and the fact he's the perfect non-judgemental accomplice in Frank's return to a life of crime.

Langella subtly provides the heart and soul as the crafty Frank, a game retiree whose disreputable inclinations take the story in a pleasingly unsentimental direction - think Wall-E meets The Thomas Crown Affair.

The chief pleasures are Frank's companionable interactions with his robot and the delicately drawn comparisons with the old boy's encroaching dementia and the disposable concept of memory to the chummy android.

Unfortunately, the ending is rushed with a redundant twist involving the forgiving Jennifer and the cartoon emergence of Frank's overly camp jewelry-heist mark.

However, the sweet-natured robo-bromance between Frank and his machine will be the memory that lingers.