Robert Downey, Jr. puts on an amazing performance — and looks as handsome as ever — in The Judge. But if depressing (and cliché) movies aren’t really your thing, you may want to wait to Redbox this one.
In the film, a big-city lawyer (Downey) returns to his small town roots and estranged family, including his father, wonderfully played by Robert Duvall. One thing to note is that while it’s definitely not as corny as the trailer lets on, it’s still a little corny. The cast is rounded out by Jeremy Strong (who is heart-wrenching as Downey’s youngest, mentally impaired brother), Vera Farmiga, Billy Bob Thornton, Vincent D’Onofrio, Dax Shepard, and Leighton Meester.
Fantastic cast aside, here are the most important things you should know about The Judge before buckling in for a 2.5-hour emotional roller coaster.
Jack Nicholson turned down the lead role.
After Downey was already committed to the project, Warner Brothers had their sights on Nicholson to play his father, but he passed. Hats off to Duvall, whose performance was as convincing as it was heartbreaking. And after seeing him, we have a difficult time picturing Nicholson in the role.
It received award season buzz… initially
Premiering at the prestigious Toronto Film Festival, the film had positive buzz — and even talks of Oscar consideration — early on. After more screenings, though, most critics agree the film is unbalanced (between Downey and Duvall’s reconciliation, the court case, lost loves and the aggressive cancer). The only elements of the movie we see fit for any nominations are Downey and Duvall’s performances.
You will feel really happy and then really, really sad.
Downey’s small zingers and compelling rants are entertaining and laugh-out-loud funny at first, but ultimately get trumped by his dysfunctional relationship with his father. The overall tone of his father’s sickness and court case once he’s put on trial for murder is a total downer, with things turning south very quickly.
Robert Downey, Jr. has never looked better
Downey’s character Henry is perhaps the DILF-iest DILF of all fall 2014 movies, but he also makes out with someone who very well could be his daughter. (That someone is Meester. We. Know!)
How To Get Away with Murder does it better.
This film is no Legally Blonde — the gritty depictions of court are much more realistic. That said, with all of this season’s awesome TV to fill your legal drama appetite, there’s really no need to spend the money and time on this one.
[Photo Credit: Warner Brothers/Getty]