The Judge

Rated R

The prospect of Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall sharing a movie together is, in a word, awesome. So what does director David Dobkin (with Downey Jr. as producer) do with such an opportunity? He gives us a movie so cliché ridden that the occasional inspired moment screams out at us like a lost puppy yelping while being swarmed by rabid bats. Downey Jr. plays Hank Palmer, one of those typical movie lawyers who gets bad guys sprung free in Chicago and pisses, literally and figuratively, on lawyers trying to put bad men in jail. Just before he gets another baddie off the hook, a call comes in from home. It turns out his mom died while tending to her flowers, so Hank is off to his hometown for the funeral. In that hometown would be his lousy dad, Joseph (Duvall) the town judge and major league prick. Hank hates his dad. Oh boy, oh boy, does he hate him. Joseph hates his son. Gee willikers, does he hate that little son of a bitch. The reasons for their mutual hatred are slowly revealed, and not a one of those reasons comes as a surprise. Hank does the funeral, and is all ready to bolt and go deal with his newly developing divorce when he gets called back to town. Turns out dad’s Cadillac and, consequently, dad are being investigated in a possible, intentional vehicular homicide. You know what this means? Court drama! And because it involves a son defending his dad, it’s a family court drama! And it is long. By god, at 141 freaking minutes, is it ever so horribly long. Downey Jr. and Duvall try their best to make something out of this, but their work is attached to a lame script that wants to be too many kinds of films at once. It’s overstuffed, boring, mawkish crap.

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