There are a lot of movies about the fancy big city protagonist reluctantly dragged back home by the death of a parent. In The Judge, from, uh… Fred Claus director David Dobkin, slick amoral lawyer guy Robert Downey Jr. (“innocent people can’t afford me”) has to return to Carbondale, Indiana (the country’s carbon basket) to bury his mom’s old bones and face the father, played by Robert Duvall, who he can’t bear to talk to. With all the earnest, soaring acoustic guitar jams, it sort of feels like a middle-aged version of Garden State (Carbon State?). But with a dash of Doc Hollywood, so I really hope Vera Farmiga skinny dips at some point. The twist here is that the bigshot city slicker defense lawyer guy ends up having to defend the father that he hates after he’s been implicated in some kind of hit-and-run where all signs point to guilt. Billy Bob Thornton plays the prosecutor, who vows to treat Duvall like a Canadian radio interviewer who doesn’t care about The Boxmasters. Gee, you think Duvall might not be guilty after all? Call me crazy, but I bet there’s more to this crime than meets the eye.
Opens October 10th. If this case doesn’t hinge on how long it takes to cook grits or mud in the tires I’m going to be very disappointed.