Posts Tagged ‘“THE JUDGE”’

“THE JUDGE”  My rating: C+ (Opens wide on Oct. 10)

141 minutes | MPAA rating: R

The Judge” has a few good things going for it, particularly the promise of a high-octane acting duel between Robert Duvall and Robert Downey Jr.
What the film doesn’t have is faith that the audience can appreciate solid dramatic acting for more than, oh, three minutes at a stretch.
In this story of an estranged father and son thrown together by a big trial, every  scene that carries a bit of weight immediately goes for a comic coda — often a cheap comic coda. The effect is weirdly mechanical. But we can’t leave the paying customers thinking serious thoughts, right?
The result is an overlong, overstuffed movie at war with itself.Hank Palmer (Downey) is a top Chicago trial lawyer. A maddening mix of intelligence and arrogance, Hank knows how to bend the law to his will. He is not apologetic about this.“Everybody wants Atticus Finch,” he notes, “until there’s a dead hooker in the hot tub.”

It’s a case of perfect casting. Nobody tops Downey in portraying smarmy characters who undergo a redemptive transformation (see “Iron Man”).

The death of Hank’s mother brings him back to the small Indiana town he fled 20 years earlier. Though this idyllic burg seems to have fallen out of a Norman Rockwell painting, Hank  hates the place.

More accurately, he hates his old man, Judge Palmer (Duvall). The two haven’t spoken since forever, and the Judge has never met Hank’s young daughter.

Why these two are always at each other’s throats will be revealed in dribs and drabs over the next two hours.

The Judge is charged with manslaughter in the death by automobile of an ex-con with whom he has had a troubled past.

Being a monstrous egoist, Hank sticks around to represent his father — especially since the Judge’s local attorney (Dax Shepard) is borderline inept. The poor jerk upchucks on the courthouse steps every time he must face Billy Bob Thornton’s steely-eyed prosecutor.


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