My personal award for Best Motion Picture on a Theme of Technological Interest goes to Robot and Frank.
Frank is an old guy whose family is finding it increasingly difficult to care for him as he descends into dementia, and so his son gets him a robot. The robot takes care of Frank by cooking meals, cleaning the house, and attempting to engage him in a more active, healthy lifestyle.
Obviously, the robot is the point of interest to the story from an engineering perspective, because Robot is a very plausible creature. So plausible that the story hardly qualifies as science fiction, and twenty years from now people who watch this movie might assume it’s simply about a man dealing with the hardships of old age.
When I first learned about the movie, I thought that having the protagonist be a former burglar was gimmicky. It’s not, it’s integral to the theme of how robots can be used and abused. I doubt a non-fiction documentary could have explored the subject as well from an emotional, personal, human viewpoint. Especially the last scene.
In this movie, no one is killed or tortured, hence it was passed over for an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. No one becomes a vampire or a zombie, let alone slays one (let alone slays thousands), hence Robot and Frank didn’t do well at the box office. Younger audiences might be bored because it appears to be slow-paced. I say ‘appears,’ because after going over the scenes in my mind, I realize that stuff I thought was just ‘filler’ or random was actually integral to the story. So while kids might be bored, the movie does make you think, and for some of us, thinking about things that really matter is a high form of entertainment indeed.
And as an older guy myself, I kept thinking, “I want one of those.” Indeed, looking around my apartment, I realize it can’t get here too soon.
(You can find the DVD on Amazon here, and Instant Video here, though I got it at Redbox.)