Movie Review: ‘The Judge’ : 2 guys Named Robert At Their Best

Author: Bill Dudley

The verdict is in, The Judge will be one of the biggest hits of the year.

One of today’s most popular and highest paid actors, Robert Downey Jr. plays a successful big city defense attorney with dubious scruples, who has to interrupt an important case to attend the funeral of his mother in the fictional town of Carlinville, Indiana.

Downey has been estranged from his father, a hometown hero but very tough judge who has made  both friends and enemies in his 40 years on the bench played by veteran actor Robert Duvall.

Vintage Hollywood is well represented by Duvall as he has been featured in some timeless classics: To Kill A Mockingbird, The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, and Tender Mercies for which he won an Oscar.

Duvall also is well known for carving television history by his  appearances in Twilight Zone, Outer Limits and Lonesome Dove.

It was an odd feeling attending the screening of his latest effort The Judge, with not only Duvall, but also Robert Downey Jr in attendance.

This is Hollywood royalty, and both are deeply passionate in their portrayals of two very different personalities in this film. Backed by an excellent cast featuring Vera Farmiga (“Bates Motel”), Vincent D’ Onofrio (Law & Order CI), Billy Bob Thornton, and Dax Shepard, The Judge will remind you of all the things you’d rather forget about your own family, while proving that deeply flawed but basically decent people can come together for the right opportunity.

Family secrets, and some known realities that really should have been left secrets abound in this taxing reality play. I found some flaws with the script, but the performances are so good you might not notice.

Duvall wasn’t the original choice for The Judge. The role was offered to Jack Nicholson, who turned it down.

Jack may regret that, as Duvall was at his “crusty best” in his demonstrative portrayal of a very conflicted man who doesn’t even know himself if he is guilty of murder.

I can’t tell you anymore, as it would destroy the mystery of the film.

Duvall and Downey are excellent. I predict Duvall will be nominated for another Academy Award.

Watch the trailer above and go see The Judge, it opens wide this Friday.

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