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The Judge

Coming back from my LA vacay, I figured I could squeeze in one jet lagged movie on Sun afternoon after I arrived in from the red eye. Airport -> home -> nap -> movie -> more nap -> gaming -> bedtime. Adding in a second movie would be pushing my luck for awake-ness, and the times didn't really work anyways. Figured that the longer film option would be good to hit on a single movie day. It was kind of the higher priority new release anyways.

Robert Downey Jr stars alongside Robert Duvall as a son and father whose lives revolve around the law. RDJr being a bigshot defense lawyer in the big city and Duvall a longtime respected judge in a small town. When their mother/wife passes away, RDJr returns to his hometown and his estranged father. When realizing that their relationship is unlikely to be mended, he's ready to quickly depart to his big city, leaving his roots behind him. He's called back when his father is arrested for manslaughter, having allegedly killed an old enemy with his vehicle.

I like to think of October as the wannabe Oscar month. True, once in a while you'll have something like Argo that starts off early and gains momentum, or you'll have your Gone Girl-esque non-conventional contender that doesn't fit any awards mold and therefore sets its own schedule. But more than those, you have a bunch of movies that have the feel of an Oscar film but not enough heft behind it, or maybe could be a contender in a weaker year. There's also the ones that really think they could be something, but just watching the trailer makes you say "Oh, honey, no" and you kinda feel sorry for them and their eventual letdown, but at the same time you admire their courage and determination. The Judge falls somewhere in one of those categories, I'd say probably contender-in-a-weaker-year.

Just watch the trailer and you'll see all those "Academy Award nominee/winner" tags attached to the names. RDJr and Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Billy Bob Thorton, and then Vincent D'Onofrio is jsut sort of thrown in there (maybe someone's a big fan of The Cell or MiB). And all of those performances here are strong. Maybe they could be up for something if competition wasn't so stiff (actually Duvall is getting some longshot chatter). The problem is the film is so formulaically Oscar bait, that no one falls for it anymore. That isn't to say the film is bad, it was rather good, but it doesn't provide the kind of fresh excitement you need to pull in the big prize. Or any prize.

RDJr got another chance to play the fast talking, ultra confident, egomaniac with a heart of gold we love this Iron Man for. Duvall shows us why his name is still mentioned with respect. The emotional script was very engaging. The film just never had that "wow" moment. And that's why it was released in October.

The Judge - \m/ \m/ \m/ \n
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