Robot & Frank

  • Review Date: January 21, 2013
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 89 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Offbeat sci-fi buddy movie isn't likely to attract teens.
  • Review Date: January 21, 2013
  • 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.

Parents say

Kids say

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 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

This review of Robot & Frank was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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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.
Adult Written bywonder dove January 6, 2014

Refreshingly down-to-earth!!

Super cute movie! Terrific acting and great cast. It says to be a comedy but it's more of a sweet drama with a kick of humor, it's heartfelt and charming. We meet a grumpy 'ole elderly man named Frank (Frank Langella) who is an ex-jewel thief living in New York and is also slowly losing his mind to Alzheimer's. He lives alone and spends his days going to the library where he likes to flirt with the easy-going librarian Jennifer (Susan Sarandon) and shoplift soaps and antiques from a shop just beside that. He frequently video-chats with his grown son Hunter (James Marsden) and daughter Madison (Liv Tyler) until Hunter drops by to introduce his dad to a robot butler that is designed to take care of Frank and can also wash dishes, vacuum, make meals...etc just like a real-life caregiver. At first, Frank declines and thinks the whole thing is ridiculous, but Hunter won't take no for an answer. Soon, Frank realizes how convenient it would be to use the no-name robot as his partner in crime, which he does, and soon the two are planning burglaries which Frank claims to help keep him occupied, he seems to also highly enjoy it, but it can only last so long. Such a sweet story that I think teens will not be interested in, it seems to be directed at more of an older audience. The language has an f-word toward the beginning of the film, some uses of sh*t, bullsh*t, b*tch, b@sterds, d@mn, @sshole. Violence includes an elderly man being chased down by cops, a man is a thief and is shown stealing certain valuables and often talking about his next plan, a man makes a woman cry when he intentionally has a "kitchen fit" throwing everything out of the shelves and cereal in her face, references to a bomb going off. Sexual content is very mild with some cute flirting and an innocent kiss, one super-quick scene of a couple heavily kissing through a window. There's some adult drinking during social gatherings. Perfectly fine for 12 and up but better suited to adult viewers I think.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much swearing


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