“The Judge” is a film that has some very fine actors in the cast. It has some very fine scenes. Had the writers and director (who was also a writer) controlled their desire to make every scene into HIGH DRAMA, they would have had a better film and a shorter film.
A warning flag for me is always the running time of a film. I belong to and am the Chief Executive Officer of the shorter is better school of cinema. This film has two main themes, long standing family tensions and courtroom fireworks. Several top actors are featured in key roles. The big guns are Robert Downey, Jr. and the always marvelous Robert Duvall. Add in Vincent D ‘Onofrio and the tremendous talent of Billy Bob Thornton, throw in Ken Howard and Dax Shepard (who can do well when given specific duties in a role ) and this should be a big winner at the box office.
The problem for this film is the desire to make every scene into a profound testament to family values or high drama in courtroom maneuvers. In a shorter film, the dramatics would have worked, but here the scenes drag on and repeat themselves and the story does not move ahead to a satisfactory conclusion.
You leave the theater wondering why it took two hours and twenty two minutes to drop you off just a mile from where you started. This could have been a better film and that is not a good opinion to have as you exit the theater.
BY GEORGE W. GAFFNEY