The Judge

Judge not lest ye be judged.

That is a quote I think, from some book or movie. Hard to remember these days. Maybe Lyndon B. Johnson said it? Either way, whoever said it must have really hated Judges.

Because Judges judge people. But who judges the Judges? Well, usually, the people in a trial I guess. They will assume he is a good or bad judge based on the outcome of their trial, both technically judging the Judge’s judgement.

Why yes, typing this all has been fun, but really has nothing to do with The Judge movie, outside of the obvious symbolism and role reversal the name offers.

Speaking of symbolism…

Indiana is home to a lot of nothing. Which is why Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.) had to leave it en route to becoming a hugely successful lawyer, going to the closest big metropolis (Chicago) to get his law on. He isn’t a defender of the people or anything like that. Nah, he can help guilty men walk. He is that good. Sure he had a troubled past, and that past involves hating his family at home, but now he is a decent human being! Almost.

Well, then his mom died. He liked his mom too. So now Hank has to head back home, where his family lives. You know, like his brothers Glen (Vincent D’Onofrio), who had his future taken away from him, and Dale (Jeremy Strong), who isn’t all there in the head. And of course his dad, Judge Palmer (Robert Duvall) who hates his son. For reasons.

But troubled times can lead to troubled driving, which is what the Judge soon finds out. Getting into a minor accident, turns out he may have hit someone. Someone he has a history with. And that someone died. Shit. Now the Judge of this small community is being charged with murder. If only he knew any great lawyers, that he didn’t currently hate. Gahhh.

Also starring Billy Bob Thornton, Dax Shepard, Vera Farmiga, Leighton Meester, and Emma Tremblay (as his daughter).

Spoilers: He might end up picking his son! Eventually.

I don’t want to describe The Judge as predictable, even though, kind of, it is. It predicted a lot of the film based on a tiny tv spot or two I had seen, and I was surprised how much of it I guessed right before the movie started.

I don’t want to say The Judge felt too long, even though, kind of, it was. The ending felt like it dragged, as it wanted to finish all of the plot lines it started and didn’t leave anything to chance. My mind compares it to Gone Girl, not based on quality or theme, but just because they are the last two movies I saw in theaters and both about the same length. Gone Girl flew by, The Judge dragged.

The acting in it was actually great, I thought all the leads did nicely. Billy Bob Thornton felt a bit underused on the grand scheme of things, but maybe I just want more of him thanks to his recent role on Fargo.

I laughed through a lot of amusing parts, but this film is definitely far more of a drama. And to me, it played it relatively safe and didn’t strive for anything truly awesome. So I am a bit disappointed. We had a lot of talent in this movie and if the story was just a bit tad better and shorter, it would have been amazing.

The only famous Robert D missing is Robert De Niro, so I assume that also had something to do with it.

2 out of 4.

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