It’s time to judge The Judge. Then you can go out on your own and judge The Judge. Then you can judge my judgment of The Judge. If your judgment differs from my judgment you may insert a raspberry at this point.
Oscar winner Robert Duval plays The Judge. He is semi-retired. He has three sons but didn’t star in the TV show, My Three Sons. The middle son is played by Robert Downey, Jr., a brilliant defense attorney who knows the law inside and out, reacts in court faster than The Flash and tosses out funny one liners – in and out of court. He and his father, The Judge, haven’t seen each other for years because of something that happened decades ago, but I don’t want to spoil your theater experience. Everything here is in the preview.
Also in the previews is why RD is back in his hometown in small town USA. His mother is dead and he’s there for the funeral, and to visit his brothers, who now have to live alone with the cranky old Judge. When RD gets home, he makes the rounds of his former haunts, crossing paths with the people who created the soap opera of his young life. There are many subplots, but the surprises all happen in the current soap opera.
The Judge has been arrested for vehicular manslaughter in a car accident. Before long, RD becomes his attorney; despite their love-hate relationship in which all communication takes the form of yelling or crying. Soon the prosecutor, Billy Bob Thornton, shows up to send The Judge to the big house to demonstrate that no one is above the law. Courtroom scenes then start obscuring the true subject of this movie. The truth emerges amidst family saga flashbacks.
While well-cast and beautifully acted, the storyline doesn’t hold up for the film’s more than two-hour run time. To maintain the interest, the film becomes very performance-driven. Thomas Newman, of the famous film-music composing family, adds an emotional Americana score that brilliantly highlights the scenes.
Filmed mostly in Massachusetts, with a few scenes done in Jackson County, Indiana, the landscapes are part of the film’s mystique: the small town American ideal. I pass judgment. Go see The Judge.
Rated 3.5 out of 4.0 reasons that I, the Jury, by a vote of 1-0 have judged The Judge guilty of being pretty good. For a “here comes the judge” retrospective, visit youtu.be/3hIcKkKID8k. It only runs 13 seconds – not two-plus hours.