Director: David Dobkin
Writers: David Dobkin, Nick Schenk and Bill Dubuque
Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Jeremy Strong, Billy Bob Thornton, Dax Shepherd, David Krumholtz, Leighton Meester, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ken Howard
Studio: Warner Brothers
“The Judge” is probably the laziest crime drama that I’ve seen in the last decade. Some online detractors have compared the film to one of the fake trailers in front of “Tropic Thunder” and I can’t say that it’s too far off. However, this movie wants to be so much smarter than it comes across. Taking cues from every legal eagle drama for the last thirty years, Robert Downey Jr heads back home to Indiana following his mother’s death. His father is the town Judge and he doesn’t seem to be taking things too hard. In fact, the Judge can’t seem to remember much at all. Robert Duvall coasts by on the same performance he’s been offering up since his last Golden Age between “The Apostle” and “Secondhand Lions”. He’s a gruff old man that wants to hide the fact that he’s losing it all.
From there, we lead head long into a cinematic pity party for Duvall as he has a really well staged scene where he craps himself. Then, there’s hints that Robert Downey Jr might be hitting on his illegitimate daughter. Spin that back around into a secret origin for why RDJ became a lawyer and then a forceful push to have his daughter come to Indiana to force a three generational spark between all members of the family. Billy Bob Thornton also gets some time to twist his Ozark moustache with glee at what has becoming of the Judge and his family.
The remainder of the film is a forced attempt to find dignity in old age while bringing the father and son back together. When you find out the details behind the man that Duvall is implicated in mowing over with his car, you can already piece together the ending. Hell, you can piece together the coda. Nothing is new here and if any of it surprises you, then we need to have a lengthy discussion of context clues. This is the kind of film that builds upon a Western audience’s sense of lazy viewing. Dumb film grammar coupled with telegraphing all actions doesn’t really entertain anyone. It’s the equivalent of Robert Zemeckis directing the McDonalds Value Meal menu.
That being said, it should surprise no one if this becomes a beloved audience favorite. It’s the kind of bland legal drama that has been keeping the lights on CBS. Well, that is if you don’t count the appeal of “Big Bang Theory”. But, there’s neither here nor there. What matters is that David Dobkin has graduated from directing Vaughn comedies to finding a way to get audiences to pay theatrical premiums for overblown episodes of “Blue Bloods”.
RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW!