Movie Review: The Judge

I had a feeling The Judge was going to be good, just based on its cast: RDJ and Robert Duvall as the main characters, with Vincent D'Onofrio, Vera Farmiga, Dax Shepard, and Billy Bob Thornton in supporting cast roles. It did end up being good, though not in the way I thought it would be; it's a slow-moving film, but I still enjoyed it.

Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.) left the small town in Indiana in which he grew up in a long time ago, and he now practices law in Chicago. His marriage is falling apart, but he still has his daughter, with whom he's very close; he's in the midst of a case when his brother (D'Onofrio) calls and tells him his mom has passed away. Hank makes the flight back to his hometown, to find that his dad (Duvall) is still a jerk, though he's fine with seeing his brothers (D'Onofrio and Jeremy Strong). The brothers notice that their dad's precious vintage car has some scratches on it, with one of the headlights knocked out, but don't think much of it - until, that is, the police come by to question him on murder charges. The town's small-town lawyer (Dax Shepard) isn't cutting it, so Hank makes places to stay in the town indefinitely in order to defend his father from the charges; and in the process, he learns a thing or two about his dad and their relationship.

This may sound strange, but this movie in regards to family relationships is how I wanted This is Where I Leave You to be - a dash of humor, a lot of drama, and great chemistry between the cast. RDJ and Duvall work great together, and it's interesting to see why Duvall's character has supposedly disliked RDJ's character for so long. RDJ and his brothers have interesting backstories, as well, and he also ends up seeing an old girlfriend, Samantha (Vera Farmiga), while he's in town, though he originally doesn't know she now has a daughter, Carla (Leighton Meester, aka Blair from Gossip Girl).

Yes, see this film. Originally I was thinking of giving it 3.5 stars, but I really liked the ending of the movie and overall, due to the great performances throughout, it deserves a higher rating. The runtime is definitely not short - it's about 2 hours and 20 minutes long - and could have been shorter, but at the same time, I'm not sure what they would have cut from the film. I'm usually a big RDJ fan, especially in the Iron Man and Avengers movies, and he does retain some of his signature "snark" here, but at the same time it's a different sort of role for him too. This movie should do well at the box office this weekend due to its cast of A-listers, but at the same time it's one I also would recommend for any moviegoers to see; I will say it's rated R, mostly for language, though.

The Judge is in theaters today, October 10th, and is rated R with a runtime of 141 minutes. 4 stars out of 5.

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