Robot & Frank

Director Jake Schreier’s wryly sentimental sci-fi movie looks forward not to a future of epic dystopia, but rather the homelier obsolescence of pre-modern houses and libraries and denizens thereof in leafy upstate New York. Here dwells Frank Langella as a reclusive curmudgeon, fading into forgetfulness, who finds himself supplied by his son (James Marsden) with a robot caretaker, of which his daughter (Liv Tyler) doesn’t approve. As it happens, the old man once was a cat burglar, and the robot, which speaks with the ominously mild voice of Peter Sarsgaard, might prove useful for a rejuvenating heist. Mercifully less clunky than its title, Christopher Ford’s script glances briefly at the philosophical implications of memory wipes, but mostly just gives itself over to the innocuous, handsomely photographed neutrality and genre-agnosticism of a TV commercial, Schreier’s specialty. Susan Sarandon co-stars.

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