The Judge DVD Review

DVD Review by Wal Reid
The Judge

The Premise
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.
The Review
To simply dismiss David Dobkin’s The Judge as just another court room drama, would be like saying all New Zealand movies begin and end with Peter Jackson. Of course it’s easy to draw comparisons to Matlock or take an easy dig at Downey Jnr’s Ironman franchise films but I think Dobkin who is more known for his comedic films (Shanghai Knights, Wedding crashers) equally excels at the dramatic and The Judge delivers a highly entertaining watch that’s definitely better than your standard Hollywood fare.
The secret of the film’s success is the talented cast and engaging script. Robert Duvall plays The Judge Joseph Palmer, a stoic pillar of the community who is now under suspicion of murder while Downey plays the son, a big city lawyer Hank Palmer returning to his childhood home who sets out to discover the truth and, along the way, reconnects with his estranged family. The tension between the two as father & son is touching, the rapport electric, as the movie weaves around these two central figures you discover more secrets that are latent in this quasi-dysfunctional family that probably aren’t as far removed as our own lives. Downey’s quick witted lines are delivered with gusto, while Robert Duvall is equally as solid. It’s a cast of many and varied, including stand out performances by ex-flame Vera Farmiga, Law & Orders Vincent D’Onofrio (not so crazy in this role) and Jeremy Strong (the simple brother with the 8mm camera) who play Downey’s two brothers in the film. Also keep an eye out for Billy Bob Thornton, he’s a bit redundant in his brief scenes as the opposing counsel but worth the mention.
The Verdict
I have to admit to hankering a good drama now and then, maybe it was because I was in the mood that The Judge got the better of me.  It’s the kind of film that would translate just as well on the small screen, if the film didn’t have the high-caliber cast or Dobkin’s intelligent script I would seriously consider it flawed. I enjoyed the ebbs and flows of the film, the ability to be made to laugh, to feel awkward or the tug at the emotional heart strings speaks volumes of The Judge.  As Downey’s character nicely puts it “Innocent people can’t afford me” by the end of the film his words are whittled sentiment. It’s not an easy watch clocking in at nearly three hours but time is relative and the Judge prevails.
The Trailer
The Info
DVD Releases: 11th February 2015
Rating: M - Contains offensive language
Duration: 142 minutes
Genre:  Drama
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga
Director: David Dobkin (The Changeup, Wedding Crashers)
The Extras
Jack Nicholson and Tommy Lee Jones were considered for the role that went to Robert Duvall.
The final choices for the lead female role were Vera Farmiga and Elizabeth Banks.
Although the film is based in North Carthage, Missouri Gone Girl was filmed in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Casting of extras had taken place in the Rose Theatre of Southeast Missouri State University, also located in Cape Girardeau.