CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for The Judge.
The Judge is another story of a scattered dysfunctional family brought together thanks to a death and the remaining members forced to deal with each other again. The difference between This Is Where I Leave You — which we talked about a few weeks ago– and The Judge is that there’s very little comedy and instead a lot of legal drama.
Robert Downey, Jr. stars as Hank, the son who left the small town and his family behind to become a big city lawyer. When his mother dies, he comes home to face the ghosts that have been chasing him in his difficult relationship with his father Judge Palmer (Robert Duvall). Also in play are the other ghosts chasing Hank —the high school accident that ended the promising baseball career of Hank’s brother Glen (Vincent D’onofrio), the disability of his little brother Dale (jeremy Strong), and his high school girlfriend (Vera Farmiga).
But it’s really all about the father-son relationship. Ultimately the Judge has to allow his son to defend him with the help of another local lawyer not up to the task (played by Dax Shepard) and against a great local lawyer — played by Billy Bob Thornton.
The screenplay is by Nick Schenk and Bill Dubuque and it has so much crammed in you can barely keep it straight. It’s directed (a bit self-indulgently for me) by David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers, Change Up and Shanghai Knights).
The acting is what’s worth seeing here. I really enjoy Downey, Jr. so much better in real, challenging acting like we see in this film as opposed to donning the sarcasm and superhero suits (although he is what made me love Iron Man). But Robert Duvall’s complete submission and commitment to this role was exceptional. As a senior facing the loss of his love, his career, and fighting for his life — he gives a spectacular performance.
It’s too long and there’s too much going on, but you have to be The Judge.
I couldn’t give it FOUR, and THREE seemed unfair to the amazing acting going on here.
THREE AND A HALF OUT OF FIVE COOKIES