The Judge is a little like seeing a short, bald man with a young, hot model. The product of few big names, some dedicated and audacious acting all thrown into the clutches of an average movie that has very obviously over extended itself.
Hank Palmer (Robert Downey, Jr.) a successful, smart mouth lawyer with a controversial reputation, returns to his small hometown of Carlinville for his mother’s funeral. Leaving his daughter and failed marriage in Chicago he is welcomed by a tense, family dynamic that seems all too familiar.
After his mother’s funeral his brash and unwelcoming father, Judge Joseph Palmer (Robert Duvall) makes it very clear he wants nothing to do with his son. Just as Hank decides to leave his dysfunctional family behind his father, a respected judge, is suspected of murdering a local man whom he had sent to prison many years ago. As Hank struggles to piece together the real story he is confronted with his father’s constant rejection.
The film has a lot to offer in the way of portraying a very believable, explosively emotional family dynamic. The relationship with the three Palmer brothers and the way they interact with their father is both authentic and entertaining. However its main flaws lie in its many sub plots, which are ultimately left unresolved, making the climax not only unfulfilling but also quite confusing. The very excruciating length of the film is in no way justified by the quality of the story. Although the film starts off quite convincingly and heightens the drama of the anticipated court case, it eventually drops and drags its self to a very long finish.
The star-studded cast is certainly not to be sniffed at, with the likes of Robert Downey Jr, Robert Duvall, Billy Bob Thornton and Leighton Meester. There is nothing lacking is the acting ability of the movie, each actor perfectly fulfills their character type. Robert Downey. Jr delivering flawlessly with his cocky arrogance.
This can be described as a viewer’s film, it will probably touch a few emotional soft spots because its family relationship portrayals are very relatable. In its entirety it is an enjoyable film with some nice twists, stunted with irrelevant detours and a slightly clichéd ending.