Reel Critics: Robots are people too

"Robot and Frank" may be the first buddy movie between a robot and a senior citizen.

Frank (Frank Langella) has increasing memory lapses, and his son (James Marsden) is worn out driving hundreds of miles each week to clean up after him. He buys his dad an expensive robot that can cook, clean, shop and keep Frank healthier.

Frank wants none of it. He hurls quiet insults at Robot (who resembles a storm trooper from "Star Wars") until he realizes it's perfect for helping Frank with certain "hobbies."

Susan Sarandon is lovely as the town librarian, and Peter Sarsgaard's clear voice gives Robot a human presence.

Langella is an elegant actor who's played everything from Dracula to Richard Nixon. Subtle but affecting through a mess of complex emotions, he deserves some Oscar attention — and yours.


Stolen identity hurts family

"The Imposter" is a gripping documentary about a Frenchman who impersonates a 16-year old Texas boy, last seen at the age of 13, and joins the family when he is "found" in Spain.

As unemotional as a robot, Frederic Bourdin coolly shares how he came to assume the identity of Nicholas Barclay. His actions are astounding, even after he is caught.

The Barclays recount their heartbreak over the missing Nicholas, their joy at being reunited, and shock at learning Frederic's identity. It's a tense, jaw-dropping film that is truly stranger than fiction. Don't miss it.


Don't let updated 'Smokey' speed past you

"Smokey and the Bandit" was a low brow car chase movie of 1977. Burt Reynolds and Sally Field were cast as a couple on the lam. They were pursued by a comical sheriff played by Jackie Gleason. There was enough humor in the silly PG story to make it very successful at the box office.

"Hit and Run" is a modern day R-rated version of this formula. It has a similar plot but adds bad language, sex and violence to the recipe. Dax Shepard is the bad boy on the run. Kristen Bell is the hot babe along for the crazy ride. Tom Arnold is the main cop in pursuit of the troubled duo. Gangsters with their own agenda are also after them, adding twists and turns to the story.

The complications of the chase produce several good laughs. There's also a long running gay guy subplot that's very funny but might offend some viewers. Overall, "Hit and Run" is still obvious B-movie material. It's not as silly as the original but it hits the comedy mark with equally low brow intent.

SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a company in Irvine.

JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender's office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator.

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World