The Judge

Rated 3.0

Early on, The Judge looks as though it is mainly going to be a courtroom drama with a provocative father-son twist. The father and son are played by Robert Duvall and Robert Downey Jr., respectively, and the key plot hook has the estranged son, an abrasive defense attorney, called on to defend his stand-offish father, a small-town judge with a reputation for stern rectitude, against charges of vehicular manslaughter, or worse. Director David Dobkin and screenwriters Nick Schenk and Bill Dubuque play all that to the hilt, and Duvall and Downey deliver the goods in their respective tailor-made roles. But Dobkin and company load up the father-son drama with more back-story baggage than this particular narrative vehicle can carry. To its credit, the film does linger over some powerful emotional nuances—the role of mutual delusion, for example—in its portrayal of father-son antagonism. And there’s something to be said for any movie that recognizes, at least in part, that a father-son conflict is something that has repercussions for all of the immediate family. Cinemark 14, Feather River Cinemas and Paradise Cinema 7. Rated R