The Judge (2014)

Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Billy Bob Thornton
Big city lawyer Hank Palmer returns to his childhood home where his father, the town's judge, is suspected of murder. Hank sets out to discover the truth and, along the way, reconnects with his estranged family.
Solidly cast and beautifully filmed but thoroughly clichéd, The Judge seems destined to preside over a large jurisdiction of the basic cable afternoon-viewing circuit.
  • Warner Bros. Pictures Company:
  • R Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 10 Oct 2014 Released:
  • 27 Jan 2015 DVD Release:
  • $47.1M Box office:

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Beautiful and Deeply Touching8/10
I don't usually write a review, but I feel compelled to defend this film against critics who, I feel, have unfairly given it a low rating. While its premise is not necessarily unique and it has its fair share of cliches, The Judge is a deeply moving film that showcases the acting powerhouse that is Robert Duvall and the undeniable versatility and magnetic screen presence of Robert Downey Jr. There are also strong supporting performances from Vera Farmiga (she and RJD have great chemistry), Billy Bob Thornton, Vincent D'Onofrio, and Jeremy Strong. I dare anyone who has dealt with family issues not to be affected. Forget the critics - they don't know everything - and do yourself a favour and watch The Judge. You won't regret it.
Definitely worth seeing for two amazing performances from Downey and Duvall.8/10
I saw this film twice at TIFF and was quite impressed! It's getting some harsh reviews, undeservedly. Yes, it's too long and yes, director David Dobkin needs to work on his tone and pacing, but the story is great and the performances are fantastic!

Not a simple courtroom drama at all, the story is more about Hank Palmer (Downey)'s struggle to understand his relationship with his father and to accept where he came from. It's about identity, family, and all the messiness and contradictions of life.

If you are a teenager who can't sit still through a more-than-two-hours long movie, or expect some type of John Grisham or Iron Man-like action from this film, you will be disappointed. If you are a true film lover who revels in watching great actors practice their craft, you will not be disappointed by The Judge.

This movie is definitely worth sitting through for amazing performances by both Downey and Duvall, who could both be up for Oscar nominations for their roles as the son and father, respectively. There are many very funny moments as well as many touching moments between father and son, brother and brother. The audience I sat with at Roy Thomson Hall loved it, frequently expressing their appreciation with laughter. See for yourself on October 10--don't let a few critics spoil it for you.
Prodigal or survivor?10/10
What happens when you go back to that small town that was home? Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.) reluctantly goes back home to honor his mother at her death and faces the battles that he strategically retreated from when he went to college. This film takes an unmitigated look at Midwestern family life from the point of view of the returning son. Prodigal or survivor?

The disputes and other scenes of life are realistically represented with Hank facing his father, Joseph, and the rest of the town the way every battle-hardened small-town returnee would love to do. The strong disputes and unflinching negotiations that Hank and Joseph go through lead to an imperfect peace.

Robert Duvall does a superb job of portraying Hank's father. Where others would let Hank soften under his father's pressure and training, Robert Downey Jr. keeps Hank strong and sharp. In his best role yet, Robert Downey Jr. shows us that he has matured into one of the solid actors working today. You will see them both at the Oscars.

The Judge is one of those rare films that tell a strong story without selling out to the usual Hollywood exaggerations. I saw this movie at TIFF through the eyes of a small-town daughter who made her break to the city to get out from under the strong influence of her father. This film evoked the strong emotions that I keep buried.

Thank you Robert Duvall, Robert Downey Jr., and every individual involved for giving a voice to people like me! Thank you Robert Downey Jr. for keeping Hank strong with a good heart.

The Judge will prove to be a classic. See it! You will be glad you did.
The Judge10/10
I was able to see this before the October release and although I read some of the reviews that were released recently I started to have some reservations however, I have disagreed with some critics in the past and figured I'd make up my own mind about this film. Gratefully I did not have to worry because it was time well spent. The performances were excellent and it was witty as well and engaging. When looking at the posters (without giving much away) I got the impression that this film looks like something out of a John Grisham novel or an episode of Law and Order, and while there is the trial going on, the movie is more of a focus of this man's (Downey) relationship with his father (Duvall), his family, his unresolved issues with his present life and the life he left behind. Downey and Duvall don't disappoint as well as the ensemble cast. If you're looking for a movie with heart, engaging performances and not a "courtroom drama", this is definitely the right film.
Worth seeing for Downey Jr and Duvall7/10
Firstly I have to say that the trailer I saw for The Judge advertised it as a courtroom/family drama with some comedy thrown in. Who doesn't love the family feud type films, where the black sheep of the family returns home for a funeral/wedding/divorce etc? And I was looking forward to seeing Robert Downey Jr in a different role from Tony Stark/Iron Man. What I didn't expect was a bit of a tearjerker.

The story itself is fairly cliched. A lawyer (Robert Downey Jr) in the middle of a messy separation returns home for his mother's funeral. His estranged father (Robert Duvall) doesn't want anything to do with him. He rekindles romance with an old flame (Vera Farmiga). It's the performances though that make it engaging and stop it from potentially being just another straight to DVD release.

The film is beautifully directed by David Dobkin. Downey Jr and Duvall are both excellent. Their scenes are strong and emotional. I also loved Vincent D'Onofrio and Jeremy Strong (as Downey Jr's older and younger brothers respectively). They are terrific. Farmiga, Dax Shepard and Billy Bob Thornton are all great, but I felt they were somewhat underused.

Even though I think that there was a bit too much going on and at times it got a bit too sentimental, I still very much enjoyed The Judge for the most part. It is a touching and absorbing film, that will make you laugh and cry, and if you are a fan of either Downey Jr or Duvall you'll love it.