THE JUDGE takes some very good actors, gives them some standard fireworks scenes (arguing), surrounds them with good production qualities and then throws it all away in an overlong, over-plotted, derivative, logic-challenged, “is that it?” waste of 141 minutes.
Hotshot lawyer Robert Downey returns to his Indiana home town for a family funeral, and ends up representing his dad, a revered local judge, saddled with a murder charge. Some good lines scattered around, a few well-handled scenes of “confront the past and blow up over it”. Working like veterans in harness: Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Vincent D’Onofrio, Billy Bob Thornton. Along for no good reason other than padding are Jeremy Strong, Dax Shepard, Leighton Meester, Ken Howard and Emma Tremblay.
Watchable (the cast), not at all believable (close your ears to the plot holes), goes off the rails in the absurd last half-hour (maddening). Directed by David Dobkin, the 2014 movie got lukewarm reviews, then pulled an Oscar nomination for Duvall in the Supporting Actor category. Count the needless subplots, undeveloped secondary characters, skewed motivations. Experience lack of empathy. The pleaded case cost $50,000,000, the empowered jury of peers only awarded $84,400,000, 73rd place for the year.