Robot & Frank Movie Poster Image

Robot & Frank



Offbeat sci-fi buddy movie isn't likely to attract teens.
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 89 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

This is a bittersweet film with some potentially sad themes about aging and family relationships, but there's also a positive message about the lengths that adult children can and should go to make sure their parents are cared for in retirement and poor health. The importance of unconditional friendship is also stressed.

Positive role models

Frank's kids are doing their best to take care of him, even though he was a neglectful father at times. They both show up regularly and try to watch after him. The robot, despite not being human, tries to give Frank advice that will protect him and help his health. Jennifer the librarian is kind and generous toward Frank.


Frank is chased by armed police officers, but no one is hurt. A suspicious man accuses Frank of stealing his valuables and attempts to get in his face, but there's no actual violence. Frank, a cat burglar, engages in shoplifting, breaking and entering, and other criminal (but not violent) behavior.


A married couple is shown through a window kissing passionately in what's clearly a prelude to more. A woman wears a cleavage-baring dress. An older couple kisses once after flirting for most of the movie.


One "f--k" and a few uses of "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch," "bastards," and "damn," plus a few scatological terms, like "piece of crap," "dump," etc.


Frank's son drives an Audi, but because the film is set in the relatively distant future, there aren't too many labels or product placements.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Adults drink at cocktail parties and meals. A woman jokes that fundraisers are easier to deal with after a few drinks.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Robot & Frank is an indie dramedy with a sci-fi twist. Although the film's mature subject matter (an aging ex-con father has health and relationship issues) isn't too likely to appeal to tweens or teens, there's not a ton of age-inappropriate content. Language is the biggest concern, with one "f--k" and several "s--t"s, and there are a couple of passionate kisses and some adult alcohol consumption. If your teen does want to see Robot & Frank, the movie's futuristic setting and its messages about family make for interesting discussion topics.

What's the story?

ROBOT & FRANK is about an extremely believable future in which most of society is the same, except robots have become as commonplace as iPads, and they're used primarily as helpers or housekeepers. Elderly curmudgeon/retired jewel thief Frank (Frank Langella) is experiencing signs of senility, so his son, Hunter (James Marsden), buys him a helper robot (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard) to keep tabs on him, organize the house, and make him meals. At first Frank is hesitant to accept the robot's help, but after the robot helps him shoplift, Frank realizes that it could be his partner in crime. With the robot's help, Frank plans a couple of local heists -- one to steal a book for the object of his affection -- a sweet librarian (Susan Sarandon) -- and another to swipe a gorgeous diamond necklace.

Is it any good?


The idea is ridiculously simple for a sci-fi movie: It's the future, but there are no alien threats, human-looking robots, or prescient oracles. The idea that robots would be programmed to help the elderly isn't even that far-fetched, so it's genius that Robot & Frank would revolve around a grumpy old man learning not only to tolerate his robot but to befriend him, confide in him, and use him as his catburglar sidekick. 

Sarsgaard's voice deserves a place in the annals of movie robots; it's perfectly crisp and direct, even when it's asking Frank to erase his memory lest it be used in a criminal investigation. And at 75, Langella continues to be one of the greatest, most expressive actors of his generation; he can depict cantankerous and confused with such emotion and humor. The relationship between Frank and his kids (Liv Tyler plays his humanitarian daughter who isn't fond of artificial intelligence) might be strained, but the camaraderie between him and his mechanical pal is genuine and touching.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about futuristic movies. How is Robot & Frank different than other future-set movies?

  • Frank is preoccupied with the book Don Quixote. Talk to kids about the significance of this text and how Frank is like the central character, with Robot serving as his sidekick.

  • Do you think the future portrayed in Robot & Frank is possible, particularly when it comes to elder care?

  • What are some other futuristic movies that feature a central robot? How is "Robot" the opposite of the robot in A.I.: Artificial Intelligence? Which kind of robot (those that look like machines or those that look like people) do you think is more likely to be popular in the future?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 17, 2012
DVD/Streaming release date:February 12, 2013
Cast:Frank Langella, James Marsden, Peter Sarsgaard, Susan Sarandon
Director:Jake Schreier
Studio:Sony Pictures
Run time:89 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:some language

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 10 years old January 23, 2014

robot an frank

awesome good for kids 6 and up
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 17 years old Written byBestPicture1996 November 2, 2013

Light film with heavy topics!

"Robot & Frank" is a clever bromance movie, though this bromance happens to be between an old curmudgeon and his robotic assistant. Instead of offering broad laughs (old people are bad at new things, HAHA) this movie examines society's dependence on technology, how well we can change ourselves, and the extent we go to find friendship. Langella's stubbornly amazing as the titular character, and Saarsgard's voice, while remaining artificial, has enough humor in it to carry Robot's innocently hilarious remarks. This is a little gem that needs way more attention.
Teen, 15 years old Written byFishynmn May 27, 2014

Flawed but witty future-set dramedy has mixed messages.

Robot and Frank is a smart, hip, buddy drama-comedy set in the near future. The acting is top-notch and it's funny, quirky, and rarely drags. It also unfolds some dramatic plot-twists and surprisingly heartfelt moments by its end. Robot & Frank could have actually made an excellent family movie if the screenplay would have diminished the frequent profanity from the script. Without the profanity, it is almost a family-friendly movie. Language includes: ___________________________________________________________________ - 1 use of the phrase "f--k this s--t".__________________________________ - a handful of other uses of "s--t".____________________________________ - five or six uses of "g-d--n"._________________________________________ - Two profane uses of "Jesus"._______________________________________ - Uses of "b---h", "b--t--d", a--, etc throughout.________________________ __________________________________________________________________ What makes Robot & Frank exspecailly not for impressionable kids is the mixed morality exposed within. Characters steal from others with no moral consequence. Frank, even the Robot, lie. Police authority is mocked by the dumb police men. Frank is notably very rude to his kids at times. ___________________________________________________________________ *Spoiler starts here!* The ending of Robot & Frank should be specifically noted. After having stole up to millions of dollars worth of jewelry from a young couples house, the police authorities begin to watch Frank's house. After destroying all the physical evidence from his house, he finds out that there is only one piece of evidence remaining, and that is the Robot's memory. After being trapped in his room with the robot, he reluctantly erases his best friend's memory. Frank is then put in a memory center and remembers apparently very little of what had happened. He had got away clean with his robbery. *Spoiler ends here!* __________________________________________________________________ That ending ultimately says that you can give up on your friends if it means you'll turn out clean in the end. And like I mentioned earlier, there is a lot of lying, stealing, and trickery that go on with zero moral consequence. ___________________________________________________________________ Overall, Robot & Frank is not for children or impressionable teens, as far as language, and moral choices. There is good that can be taken from Robot & Frank, however, you have to know if your teen can thoroughly sort the good Morals and the mixed worldview. Also, it is doubtful too many teenagers will be interested in Robot & Frank anyways. Older teenagers and adults will appreciate it for the good movie it is much more.
What other families should know
Too much swearing