Review: The Judge

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Title: The Judge
MPAA Rating: R
Director: David Dobkins
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duval, Vincent D’Onofrio
Runtime: 2 hrs 21 mins

What It Is: Hank Palmer has returned home after the death of his mother, and what he’s returned to is an older brother who may or may not hate him, a father he is assured does, and a younger brother that doesn’t know what exactly is going on. Likewise an old flame is rekindled, and on top of that steaming pile of life stuff something happens with the father he won’t soon forget, and in fact it’ll keep him from getting on with his big city life, at least for a little while.

What We Think: There are certainly some strong performances in this film particularly Robert Duval as the titular judge. It does however suffer from it’s length and overall disjointed nature. There’s several storylines here and most of them get the wrap up but it just takes too long to get there. Pacing is all over the place. One cut we’re in a moment experiencing something emotional and real the next we’re dealing with Dax Shepard playing a bumbling public defender that the crumudgeonly Judge Palmer wants to defend him instead of his Northwestern University educated, top of his class lawyer son. That should tell you a thing or two about their relationship.

Our Grade: C, It’s unfocused approach coupled with a spotty story really hurt a film that with better guidance could’ve perhaps been Oscar bait, however the lost direction and mediocre script hurt a film with some great performances. Duval is pitch perfect as Judge Palmer, and RDJ tries to break away from the shackles of Iron Man. This wasn’t the title to do it, but damn it it really wanted to be.

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