Custom Search




banner2

banner3

banner1

banner2


The Judge

October 16, 2014

(Film critic Adam Long’s column will return next week.)

By JAKE COYLE

AP Film Writer

Just put Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall in a room together and you’ll have a movie, a truism that The Judge does its damnedest to disprove.

David Dobkin’s film doesn’t leave a melodramatic stone unturned, adding to its courtroom drama a sentimental tsunami of story lines: a mother’s funeral, a father-son reckoning, a fight with cancer, a dash of alcoholism, a custody battle, a mentally challenged younger brother, and a hint of possible incest, to boot. Objection! Badgering the moviegoer.

But for a moment, the big-budget sheen of The Judge and its contrived, kitchen-sink emotionality is forgotten. Downey’s big-city, high-priced lawyer, Hank Palmer, helps his ailing father, Duvall’s Judge Joseph Palmer, in an excrement-soiled bathroom, pulling him into the shower while they both struggle for an excuse to keep Hank’s young daughter outside.

Even with the scene’s gratuitous realism, it’s the one natural moment in the otherwise schematic The Judge. As it is, the considerable appeal of seeing two fine actors as perfectly opposite each other like Duvall and Downey, one a rigid old cowboy, the other a manic pinball, is limited by the film’s ceaseless heart string-pulling. This is a movie that uses Bon Iver’s mawkish Holocene the cheapest of ploys—not once, but twice.

Downey & Duvall in The Judge

Hank is a glib Chicago defense attorney (“innocent people can’t afford me’’) turns to his Indiana hometown for his mother’s funeral and a reluctant reunion with his domineering father, from whom he’s long been estranged. Despite being a community pillar, Judge Palmer is arrested for running over and killing a man he once put in jail.

Hank defends him, along with a sheepish local lawyer (Dax Shepard) against a severe prosecutor (Billy Bob Thornton). The case is less the driver of the story than the frame for Hank’s return to his roots (Vincent D’Onofrio and Jeremy Strong play his brothers, Vera Farmiga his ex-girlfriend) and bonding with his father.

Duvall (who perhaps ought to have had more scenes dishing out justice on the bench in a movie called The Judge) is in his wheelhouse, playing a tough-talking, joke-dishing old man, but one haunted by regret and humbled by encroaching old age.

Downey, too, is in typical form, though he’s never much tested to go beyond his easy, hyper-verbal charm. But his live-wire act remains a thing to behold. Where one actor reacts once, Downey reacts half-a-dozen times, alert to every word and gesture.

Seemingly anxious that in today’s cinema there’s no place for a simple courtroom drama or a coming-home tale, The Judge fuses the two together. This is, after all, Downey’s first drama since 2009’s The Soloist; he’s had Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes franchises to attend to.

Dobkin (largely a director of broad comedies like Wedding Crashers) won’t rest his constantly moving, always swooping camera. Large portions of the movie are over-lit by cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, who has shot some beautiful movies (Lincoln, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), but his penchant for flares and blown-out windows here gives the film an artificial flatness.

If in eight years, Downey’s dramatic output amounts to The Judge and The Soloist, we can only feel that something is being squandered. Instead, we get a perpetually watchable film in that lazy-afternoon-cable-movie kind of way. If The Judge proves anything, it’s that talented, likable actors like Downey, Duvall, D’Onofrio and Farmiga can keep a mediocre movie humming.

The Judge, a Warner Bros. release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for ``language including some sexual references.’’ Two stars out of four.

The Judge is playing at the Carmike in Hickory and other area theaters.

Questions or comments? Write Adam at filmfan1970@hotmail.com.

 

 

ARCHIVES:

Annabelle & Gone Girl

The Equalizer & Happy 75th, GWTW!

The Drop • A Walk Among & The Tombstones

No Good Deed

The Identical

As Above, So Below & November Man

If I Stay & Sin City: A Dame To Kill For

The Giver • Code Black & The Expendables 3

Boyhood • Into The Storm & Magic In The Moonlight

Get On Up & Guardians Of The Galaxy

Lucy

Begin Again & The Purge: Anarchy

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

Chef & Tammy

Transformers: Age Of Extinction

Jersey Boys

22 Jump Street & How To Train Your Dragon 2

The Fault Is In Our Stars & Edge Of Tomorrow

A Million Ways To Die In The West

X-Men: Days Of Future Past Maleficent

Godzilla • Summer Preview

Neighbors • Godzilla

The Amazing Spiderman 2 & Belle

The Other Woman & Brick Mansions

A Haunted House 2 & Heaven Is For Real

Oculus & Rio 2

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Noah

Divergent

The Grand Budapest Hotel & Veronica Mars

300: Rise of the Empire

Non-Stop & Son Of God

Three Days To Kill

Robocop & The Past • About Last Night

The Monuments Men

Labor Day

I, Frankenstein

Inside Llewyn Davis & Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Lone Survivor & August: Osage County

Her • Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom & The Wolf Of Wall Street

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, Saving Mr. Banks, American Hustle, Anchorman 2

The Hobbit: The Desolation & Of Smaug • Nebraska

Dallas Buyers Club & Oldboy & Out Of The Furnace

Philomena & The Book Thief

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire & Delivery Man

About Time & All Is Lost

Thor: The Dark World & 12 Years A Slave

Ender’s Game & Last Vegas

Bad Grandpa &The Counselor

Carrie & The Fifth Estate

Captain Phillips, Enough Said & Machete Kills

Gravity & Runner Runner

Metallica: Through The Never , Rush & Don Jon

Prisoners & Rush

Insidious: Chapter 2 • The Family & The Spectacular Now

Riddick

Getaway

The World’s End You’re Next

Lee Daniels’ The Butler • Jobs • Blue Jasmine

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters & Elysium

2 Guns

Blue Jasmine • The Wolverine & Fruitvale Station

Fruitvale Station • The Conjuring & The Way Way Back

Pacific Rim & Grown Ups 2

The Lone Ranger & Despicable Me 2

The Heat & White House Down

Monsters University, World War Z, Before Midnight & The East

Man of Steel & This Is The End

The Internship & The Purge

After Earth, Now You See Me & Frances Ha

The Hangover Part III Before Midnight

Star Trek: Into Darkness & Fast and Furious 6

The Great Gatsby & Frances Ha

Iron Man & Peeples

Pain and Gain & Mud

Oblivion & Lords of Salem

42 and Scary Movie 5

Evil Dead & Jurassic Park 3-D

G.I. Joe: Retaliation Tyler Perry’s Temptation

Spring Breakers Admission

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone • The Call

Oz: The Great And Powerful West Of Memphis

Jack the Giant Slayer The Last Exorcism, Part II

Dark Skies & Snitch

A Good Day to Die Hard & Safe Haven

Side Effects & Identity Thief

Bullet To The Head Warm Bodies


 

 

 

RenFest2014.jpg   RenFest2014.jpg

PO Box 1721 | Hickory, NC 28603 | 828.322.1036 | Office Hours: Mon. - Fri. 9am - 5pm | focusnews@centurylink.net

Home • Reviews: MoviesAdam Long • Editorials: FocusHave Chainsaw Will TravelSid On SportsBobbi GSara MawyerPeople PicturesPlaces/PeopleExtra Events Listing
Out Of Focus • News: Local NewsNational NewsHoroscopes • Info/Links: Staff/ContributorsList Of AdvertisersOnline AdvertisingOnline ClassifiedsContact UsFocus BLOGStoreLinks

© 1978 - 2014 Tucker Productions, Inc.