We picked up two “buddy” films this weekend. One was a buddy/fish-out-of-water mashup, and the other was a classic buddy/caper film.
Both were a lot of fun.
“The Intouchables” comes to us from France, but don’t roll your eyes and put it into that “foreign film” category. It is engaging, wry, honest, and very watchable. Based on a true story, it has a lot of heart, but it does suffer from predictability. Although, if predictability were a curse, no one would ever watch a rom-com, would they?
The buddies in this film are Driss (Omar Sy), a street-smart petty thief, and Philippe (François Cluzet), a very well-to-do quadriplegic. Driss arrives to apply for the job of caregiver to Philippe, but without any expectation of being hired; he’s just wants to fulfill the “I applied” requirement for his unemployment benefit. He is, of course, hired, despite his unsuitability, and thus the main action is set in motion. The movie follows the standard story line, and nothing happens without our expecting it, but the portrayal of the two characters is what keeps us interested until the end. Omar Sy is irrepressibly enchanting, and Cluzet’s understated and often unspoken wit is priceless.
“Robot & Frank” was the second buddy film we screened but the buddy in this movie (did you guess?) is a robot. Frank (Frank Langella) is a “retired” second-story man, and he’s getting a little vague with his advancing age. Set in the near future where such things would be possible, his son, honestly wanting to help his old man, buys him a robot to assist him with his daily routine and help bolster his fading mental faculties. When Frank realizes that the robot doesn’t have a moral restriction against thievery, well, nothing bolsters Frank’s mental faculties better than a good caper.
This movie shows its ingenuity not with the main plot, which follows a standard storyline, but in the sub-plots and characterization. The cast helps out, too, with the talents of Liv Tyler, Jeremy Sisto, Susan Sarandon, and with Peter Sarsgaard as the voice of Robot. The relationships here are subtle, and some of the twists are surprising, making this movie stand out amongst its peers.