The Judge is the story of a big city lawyer returning to his small rural home for his mother's funeral and being reminded of all the reasons he left... and the few reasons he may have wanted to stay. Yeah, it's pretty Lifetime in nature and carries all the patented cheese you'd expect from one of their programs. But this movie was released in theaters with a big cast and serious aspirations. And honestly I'm surprised at all of the people they managed to get on board with this project.
Obviously, this movie would not exist without Robert Downey Jr. ... He's listed as Executive Producer, though I don't know why he would choose something like this to flex his power on. He's a really fun actor most of the time, but roles like these I tend to feel like he could do without. But then, maybe he just wanted to work with Robert Duvall, who does a very quality job in a role that asks for less than I was expecting. The one thing I was told before walking into this movie was that Duvall could be a front runner for supporting actor at this years awards. After the viewing, I'd be very surprised if anything from this flick made so much as a whisper come Oscar season. That's not to undermine Duvall's performance... he did great. It's more to say, this film doesn't say or do anything we haven't seen a thousand times before. It's classically unoriginal and sorely lacking in the department of creativity or legitimate insight.
Vera Farmiga was excellent as usual... though in very very limited time. And I enjoyed Leighton Meester and Billy Bob Thornton... but, again, for a movie that goes so overwhelmingly beyond its necessary run time (2 hrs 20mins), these actors definitely deserved more screen time.
The Judge confuses me because I don't really understand why it was made. David Dobkin is a rarely successful comedy director working with Robert Downey Jr who we all know now as a big budget box office master... but perhaps that's all there is to it. These guys just wanted a change of pace, so they made something no one would expect from them... just to switch it up. No one really needs to see this movie, because they've already seen it. But The Judge is not a terrible film. It's just so-so. It's just there to pass the time.