The Judge posterIt’s got Robert Downey Jr.

Oh, you want to know more?

Okay, here goes. The Judge is riddled with clichés, runs about a half-hour too long, and doesn’t really offer up anything groundbreaking. But I still liked it, mostly because Robert Downey Jr. is so darn watchable – even more so when he’s not obscured by an Iron Man suit. The guy is aging – and acting – really well.

Here’s the gist: Downey plays Hank Palmer, a talented big city defense lawyer who’s jaded, ethically-challenged, and consumed by his job. When his mother dies, Hank returns to his childhood home in small-town Indiana where he reconnects with his estranged father (Robert Duvall) and two brothers.

Duvall’s character is a highly-respected judge who suddenly finds himself facing murder charges in the hit and run of an ex-con. Hank sticks around to defend his father, who’s been harboring secrets about his health and isn’t quite sure what happened on the night in question.

The movie is formulaic and the dialogue somewhat cheesy, but the scenes between the Roberts – Downey and Duvall – are often funny and unexpectedly poignant. The supporting characters do a fine job, but this movie is ultimately all about the father-son relationship and how the Lawyer and the Judge got to be the way they are.

The film is rated what I would call a ‘soft R’ for language and sexual references and some gross moments involving bodily functions and fluids. But I suspect it will be easily amended for television and airplane viewing, where it will likely find a comfortable niche. The Judge is not the type of movie that needs to be seen on the big screen. HOWEVER, if you’re a Robert Downey Jr. fan (like me), then don’t feel the least bit guilty about hitting up a matinee.

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