The Judge

SHARE

(2014) ★★

Sky Movies Premiere: PREMIERE Friday 7 August, 11.30am and 9pm

Slick and sleazy big-city lawyer Robert Downey Jr returns to his Indiana hometown for his mother’s funeral. His father Robert Duvall, the town’s respected judge, greets Downey distantly with a cursory handshake while hugging other well-wishers at the wake for his beloved wife. When Downey moans about his father’s snub, big brother Vincent D’Onofrio feigns snoring: “Oh, I forgot, today’s about you.” Downey can’t wait to pack his bags and leave behind this ‘Bible-banging backwater’ forever. But on the day of Downey’s departure, Duvall is charged with a hit-and-run murder. And the prosecuting attorney is jury snake-charmer Billy Bob Thornton. The soapy small-town clichés are unevenly spread among a capable cast: Downey’s kid brother (Jeremy Strong) is a well-meaning simpleton, his highschool sweetheart runs the local diner (Vera Farmiga, fobbed off with an unflattering role). Estranged father and son will bond, of course, in a wildly contrived John Grisham-like potboiler that wends its way to an over-emotional courtroom showdown. Billy Bob should surely have objected, for them wasting the court’s time if nothing else. The soundtrack includes a couple of sentimental songs, too. Ultimately, The Judge peters out like it’s merely the set-up for a TV series about the judge’s son. Still, the title role’s a gift for Duvall, and he’s more than good enough to make the most of it. At 84, he became the oldest nominee for a supporting actor Oscar, and the one genuinely poignant moment in a clumsily manipulative film occurs when Atticus Finch is mentioned in passing. (Duvall made his film debut in 1962 as Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird.) As a duel, it’s no contest. A kind of 12 Angry Men reduced to 2 men shouting. Duvall’s stubborn, Downey’s smarmy. He can’t help it, it’s in his DNA. Robert Duvall has always acted his age. Robert Downey Jr is 50, looks 40, and acts 30 going on 25. He seemed such a phenomenal talent when he played, so brilliantly and so bravely, the lead role in Richard Attenborough’s under-appreciated Charlie Chaplin biopic. But that was in another century. Back in 1992. Before he dyed his hair. The Judge is director David Dobkin’s first feature since he followed his 2005 hit Wedding Crashers with a couple of comedy clinkers: Fred Claus (2007) and The Change-Up (2011). Not much of a defence, I realise, but it is better than The Juror.

Certificate: 15

Duration: 142min

IMDB – The Judge

TMDB – The Judge

Rotten Tomatoes – The Judge

Other Showings Time & Date
Sky Movies Premiere Saturday, 8 August at 11:30AM
Sky Movies Premiere Saturday, 8 August at 9:00PM
Sky Movies Premiere Sunday, 9 August at 11:30AM
Sky Movies Premiere Sunday, 9 August at 9:00PM
Sky Movies Premiere Monday, 10 August at 11:30AM
Sky Movies Premiere Monday, 10 August at 9:00PM
Sky Movies Premiere Tuesday, 11 August at 9:45AM
Sky Movies Premiere Tuesday, 11 August at 9:00PM
Sky Movies Premiere Wednesday, 12 August at 11:30AM
Sky Movies Premiere Wednesday, 12 August at 9:00PM
Sky Movies Premiere Thursday, 13 August at 11:30AM
Sky Movies Premiere Thursday, 13 August at 9:00PM