by Lorie Lewis Ham
Special coupon for Dinuba Platinum Theatre at the end of this review.
In The Judge, Robert Downey Jr. plays big city Chicago lawyer Hank Palmer, who returns to his childhood home in a small town in Indiana for his mother’s funeral. From the moment he arrives he butts heads with his estranged father, the town’s judge, played by Robert Duvall.
Hank can’t wait to leave town as soon as possible and get back to what he would consider a real town, and away from his father. Despite a walk down memory lane where he reconnects with his high school girlfriend and his brothers, Hank makes it very clear he hates it there and can’t wait to leave. However he ends up having to stay much longer than planned when the judge is accused of murder. At first the judge insists that a local, inexperienced lawyer, played by Dax Shepherd, represent him, but is willing to let Hank sit in. But it doesn’t take long before the Judge even concedes that he needs his son to represent him, even if he does second guess him all along the way. Hank’s methods come into question as he has become a very cynical, only in it for the win, type of lawyer that will do whatever it takes to win and doesn’t care if his clients are guilty, but representing his father starts to change him and make him second guess his life choices.
The family relationships here are real, flawed yet filled with love. I enjoyed the interaction between Vincent D’Onofrio as Hank’s older brother Glen, and Jeremy Strong as their younger, slightly slow brother. You totally believe this is a family. Downey and Duvall play the intense and emotional scenes of father and son perfectly, reminding us that Downey can be much more than just a Marvel superhero–these are two of the greatest actors of our time. Billy Bob Thornton plays the prosecuting attorney who is determined to prove that the judge is guilty, and his battles with Hank in the courtroom are intense. It was nice seeing Dax Shepherd in a very different role from his character on Parenthood–a shy, nervous small town lawyer who throws up before every time in court.
While I enjoyed the courtroom scenes and the investigation of the murder (could the judge actually be guilty?), for me the heart of this movie was definitely the relationships. It was touching to see the relationship between Hank and his father change through the course of the trial, and the reveal of his father’s illness. There were some very sad moments, and one scene that was very hard for me to watch having gone through something similar with my dad not that long ago–but it was very real and moving.
If you enjoy courtroom drama and a good mystery, if you enjoy watching heartwarming family drama, and if you enjoy watching great acting–don’t miss The Judge.
Check out the trailer on the movie website.
The Judge is currently playing at Dinuba Platinum Theatres 6, also in 3D. Showtimes can be found on their website. Platinum Theaters Dinuba 6 now proudly presents digital quality films in 2-D and 3-D with 5.1 Dolby digital surround sound to maximize your movie experience.