ROBOT AND FRANK
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Spectre
We open up to hands using a lock pick to open a door. The hands then move to drawer, which proceeds to jimmy it open and take out a bracelet. The man in question shines a light across a picture frame of a man and two children. The man, Frank (Frank Langella), recognizes himself. He is breaking into his own house. He drops the picture frame in shock, breaking it. Frank, though denying it, is slipping into dementia. He leaves the broken picture frame and goes to bed.
Our setting is Cold Springs, New York. It is the “near future.”
Frank gets up the next morning and fixes himself some cereal. Taking a bite, he spits it out in disgust. The milk has spoiled due to his forgetfulness. He gets a call from his daughter Madison (Liv Tyler). Madison is traveling overseas, doing some charity work. Frank doesn’t get to talk to her long, as the Skype connection cuts out.
Frank walks into town, walking halfway in the road, causing cars (including extremely slim models) to have to go around him. Frank heads the library and meets with Jennifer (Susan Sarandon), the librarian. He flirts with her some, and they go look for some books he hasn’t read yet. Jennifer is being slowly phased out by a digital overhaul of books and a robot she has nicknamed “Mr. Darcy.” Frank is saddened that everyone wants to get rid of books.
Frank gets a call from his son, Hunter (James Mardsen). Hunter is coming to visit. Frank tells Hunter he is going to a restaurant called Harry’s. Hunter tells him Harry’s has been closed for quite some time. Frank goes anyway to the new store, Blush, which is basically a body wash store. Frank shoplifts something, and he is accosted by the store employee who tells him if he comes in again, they will have him arrested him for shoplifting. Frank leaves.
Frank is walking home when a car comes by. It is Hunter who tells his dad he was in the middle of the road. Hunter drives him back to the house.
At the house, Hunter is disgusted with how the place is falling apart and tells his father he is getting worse. Frank denies anything is wrong with himself but asks his son about Princeton, the college he went to 15 years before. Hunter tells him that he brought him something. They go outside, and Hunter gets a large Robot out of the trunk and powers it on. The Robot (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard) says hello. Frank is less than enthused. “That thing is going to murder me in my sleep,” Frank says. Hunter tells the Robot to go inside to clean up and make them some lunch.
The Robot makes a great meal. Frank mentions he doesn’t want the thing around in his house, and it would get in the way of Hunter’s mother. Hunter sighs and explains to his father again that his mother divorced Frank 30 years ago. Hunter lays down the law in regards to the Robot. Hunter has been making 10 hour round trip commutes to see his father and take care of him. He can’t see his kids much due to this. Hunter tells his dad that the Robot stays. If he gets any worse, he will have to go to the Memory Center. Frank reluctantly lets the Robot stay.
The following morning, The Robot cleans out the house of garbage and goes for groceries while Frank sleeps. He wakes Frank up a 7 a.m. saying a fixed routine will be good for him. Frank forgets what he is and asks the Robot what he is. “I’m a Robot, Frank,” he replies.
The Robot serves Frank a grapefruit for breakfast and Frank is less than pleased, asking for cereal. The Robot says that cereal isn’t healthy, and he needs to eat better. Robot suggests they start a garden so they can grow healthy foods. “Fuck this shit,” Frank says. Robot threatens to call Hunter and tell him of Frank’s uncooperative nature. Frank backs down, but notes, “I’m not gardening!”
Robot starts the garden. When Frank asks why he isn’t going faster, Robot notes, “Some things take time Frank.”
Robot and Frank go on a hike. Frank hates walking, but Robot says he needs moderate exercise for his health. Frank says he rather die having a heart attack eating cheeseburgers than eat vegetables every day. Robot says that if Frank dies due to that, he would have failed his directives, and he would be sent back to the factory to have his memory wiped. Robot doesn’t want that.
Frank heads to the library and makes Robot sit outside and wait. Inside, Frank asks “Mr. Darcy” where Jennifer is. He sees her arguing with Jake Finn (Jeremy Strong), a pompous local man that apparently owns the main stake in the library’s new future. Jake is rude to Frank, talking about how he is old enough to be able to have gotten his information with books.
Jennifer explains to Frank that the books are being recycled, and the library is going completely digital. Jennifer will stay on to keep up the building, but the old spirit of the place will be gone. Jennifer shows him a very old copy of Don Quixote, and marvels at it.
Frank goes outside to see some kids messing with his Robot. Frank suggests that the next time someone messes with him, that he should pretend he has a self destruct sequence and count down from ten.
Frank and the Robot go to the soap shop where another employee is charmed by the Robot. The other employee sees Frank and accuses him of shoplifting again though his pockets are empty. Robot says they should leave. On the way home, Robot shows Frank he took the soap when Frank forgot about it. Frank notes that Robot basically stole the soap.
During dinner, Frank asks Robot on his thoughts on stealing. Robot lists the definition, though relates he has no opinion on whether it is good or bad as he is not human and thus doesn’t have a conscience. Robot asks Frank if he should add government mandates on criminal law to his directives. Frank vetoes that option, realizing he can use Robot for something useful. “Okay Frank,” Robot cheerfully states, “It’s time for your enema.”
The next morning, Frank decides to teach Robot how to lock pick, with the idea of taking him jobs. Frank relates he spent two stretches in prison. The first was for six years for stealing high priced goods. The second was for ten years for tax evasion, a charge Frank scoffs at. Robot is able to pick the lock and Frank notes it was his quickest time yet. “I’m getting the hang of it,” Robot says.
Frank goes to the library to see Jennifer. Jennifer mentions there will be a fundraiser for the library and asks Frank if he wants to go with her. Frank says yes. Frank and Robot case the library noting the security system and the flaws in it.
That night, they break in, and Robot picks the lock holding the priceless books. Frank tells him that he was the best since he got to understand floor plans really well, especially since his cover job was a maintenance man. They steal the Don Quixote book though panicked at staying too long, Frank accidentally leaves his glasses behind.
Frank gets a call from Madison. She has heard about the robot and is less than pleased. Frank, who has now warmed up to it by now, says he actually likes having it around.
Frank goes to the fundraiser with Jennifer. She mentions the break in and Frank plays dumb. He bumps into Jake and his wife there and Jake continues to be a tool. “Frank, you’re so square you are avant guard,” Jake says. Frank is stunned by his punk attitude. “What the hell did you say to me?” Frank barks.
Frank notices Jake talking to a man at the party. He begins to get worried.
Jake comes back up to Frank and asks if Frank has reading glasses. He implies that he knows Frank did the break in at the library and asks that he doesn’t come around much anymore.
Later at home, Frank decides, using the pictures Robot took, that he will rob Jake’s house next. Robot is unwilling to take the risk considering what happened last time, but Frank counters it is the Robot’s job to keep him healthy. Frank says doing jobs is keeping him healthy and sane Robot agrees to at least help Frank plan, and Frank solicits a promise that if he can show a perfect plan to Robot, they will work together.
Frank begins to case Jake’s house and figuring out his routine.
One night, Frank is working on Jake’s house plans when Jennifer comes by. They had set up a dinner date that Frank has forgotten by now. He asks for her to come by later and she leaves saddened, leaving behind a pie she brought him.
A montage ensues of Frank and Robot staking out Jake’s home and figuring out his schedule. Frank relates he hasn’t felt this good in years.
Madison comes to Frank’s house intending to stay. Having not liked the idea of the robot, she shuts it down with the password she was given by Hunter. Frank is saddened not having his partner around anymore. Madison means well but is actually make things work. For example, she buys cereal and junk food Frank usually ate, but has gotten accustomed to no longer eating ever since Robot had made meals from the garden he had grown. Frank asks for lasagna one night, and Madison is unable to make a decent meal. Frank goes to bed, noting the place is a mess. Madison looks at Robot.
The next morning, Frank comes downstairs to see the place immaculately clean. Madison lies about cleaning all night, and Frank calls her on it. Frank pleads for her to turn Robot back on saying he needs him. Madison asks why. “He’s my friend,” Frank says somewhat sadly. Frank begs her and Madison agrees, though notes they should not get dependent on him. As soon as she is out of hearing distance, Frank tells Robot they have to rob Jake that night as their timetable is shrinking. Robot reminds him that he has to show a foolproof plan.
Frank shows him everything, telling Robot he has thought up contingencies for every scenario. Robot agrees with the plan, and they go to Jake’s house. Robot is able to spin through every combination quickly, and they get out with the jewels just moments before Jake and his wife get back.
Frank looks at the jewels, noticing they are “too hot” (meaning too valuable) and plans to hide them until he can do something with them.
The next morning, Jake and Sheriff Rowlings (Jeremy Sisto) stop by. Jake is sure Frank robbed him, but Rowlings is less than convinced given Frank’s age, and even asks Frank to be a consultant on the case. Frank gives them nothing and tells Madison everything will be fine.
Madison leaves the next day. Frank gives her a pair of earrings, according to him from the “old days” for her to pawn to fund her charity work. Madison asks him to call Hunter, and she heads off. As she does, Frank notices a van parked near his property. Frank asks Robot about it, and Robot notes it has been staking out the house at least a day. Frank realizes he has to get rid of the evidence.
Frank destroys blue prints and other information that could tie him to the robberies. Robot notes that his visual memory could be used against him, and that he should be rebooted. Frank is against it, but Robot tells him that he lied about being worried about his memory being deleted. He isn’t human so doesn’t fear “death.” Frank tells Robot to call Hunter and exaggerate that he is dying to get him down to the house.
Hunter arrives and sees Frank. Frank apologizes for being a bad father, and asks him to take a briefcase and hide it, saying he wants to “die clean” without another arrest. Hunter agrees and is about to leave when the van backs up to him, holding Rowlings, Jake, and several deputies. They open up the briefcase to only find soap Frank has shoplifted. Frank comes out and lets them into the house.
They search the place but find nothing. Hunter is aghast at his father, realizing he was part of the ruse, and calls him selfish. Jake is getting more agitated that no evidence has been found when it hits him. The Robot has a visual memory that can replay events. Frank tries to stop him but has no authority. Jake toys with Robot and Robot starts counting down as if he has a self destruct sequence. Hunter calls its bluff but Rowlings and Jake aren’t so sure and run out. That gives Frank time to get his car and drive off with Robot.
Robot tells Frank once again to reformat him. Frank still won’t listen.
Frank has Robot break into the library for him. He goes to see Jennifer and tells her he is in a bit of trouble. Jennifer realizes he stole the Don Quixote book (he had planned to give it to her as a gift). Frank suddenly sees photos on the wall of his children and Jennifer. Jennifer is Frank’s ex-wife. When she moved back into town, he was too far into his dementia to remember her. She had played along with his flirting because she still cares for him, even after all these years. They kiss, but Frank leaves in anger, because he is starting to realize that his mind is failing him.
Frank and Robot walk home, with Frank rattling off the things they will do for the rest of the day, forgetting that they are in serious trouble. When he gets to the door, Hunter and Rowling see him and rush him. Frank gets inside and locks the door and goes upstairs with Robot. Robot tells him that if his memory is wiped, there will be nothing to tie Frank to the crimes. Robot shows him how to restart him, and Frank finally acquiesces to his request. Robot powers down, wiped of his time together with Frank. “I knew you had an off switch,” Frank says sadly, holding Robot as in a hug.
An unknown amount of time later, Frank is shown living in a small room. Though apparently not charged with any crimes, he has been sent to a living care facility his son was hoping not to put him in. Hunter comes by to see him. Frank asks him about Princeton. Hunter sighs and tells him Princeton is going great.
They go on a walk, where they are met by Madison and Jennifer, and the family has a nice lunch. They all depart telling Frank they will visit again soon. Frank slips a note to Hunter. He tells them to look under the Robot’s garden and to “Have fun kids.” Frank, it seems has not lost all his mental facilities. He apparently hid the stolen jewels in the garden and wants his kids to have them as he no longer has any use for them.
Frank goes back to his room and sees other residents with Robots like the one he had. He stares at them in sadness, missing his friend.