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"THE JUDGE"
(2014) (Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall) (R)


Alcohol/Drugs Moderate
Blood/Gross Stuff Moderate
Disrespectful/Bad Attitude Heavy
Frightening/Tense Scenes Mild
Gun/Weapons Minor
Imitative Behavior Heavy
Jump Scenes None
Music (Scary/Tense) Mild
Music (Inappropriate) None
Profanity Extreme
Sex/Nudity Heavy
Smoking None
Tense Family Scenes Extreme
Topics to Talk About Heavy
Violence Mild


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A hotshot defense lawyer returns to his childhood home to attend his mother's funeral, only to discover that his estranged father, the town's judge, is suspected of murder.
PLOT:
Hank Palmer (ROBERT DOWNEY JR.) is a slick Chicago defense attorney who's an expert at defending his high-end criminal clients in court, much to the chagrin of Mike Kattan (DAVID KRUMHOLTZ), his prosecutor counterpart. Yet, things aren't perfect for him, what with his wife having recently cheated on him, thus leaving the decision about who will get custody of their 7-year-old daughter, Lauren (EMMA TREMBLAY), up in the air.

It gets worse when Hank gets word that his mother has died, and thus he returns to his hometown of Carlinville, Indiana, a place he hasn't been for years. Despite their mutual loss, Hank and his father, Joseph (ROBERT DUVALL) -- the town's well-respected judge for the past 42 years -- maintain their cold estrangement, while Hank also reunites with his older brother, Glen Palmer (VINCENT D'ONOFRIO) -- a one-time highly regarded baseball prospect who now runs a tire and rim shop -- and their younger sibling, Dale (JEREMY STRONG), a slightly mentally impaired man who always has his old film camera in hand.

As soon as the funeral is done, Hank's back on a plane, but an emergency call from Glen cuts that short. It appears their father has been charged with murder, specifically that of a former suspect he didn't throw the book at and who then returned to kill a 16-year-old girl years ago. That man has been found dead, with his blood on Joseph's car. The only thing is that the judge can't remember the incident, a result of him undergoing medical treatment.

That isn't something he wants brought up in court, one of many points of frustration for Hank once he begrudgingly decides to defend his father after Joseph's initial lawyer, C.P. Kenney (DAX SHEPARD), proves less than competent to head up the defense. And that's a big deal since out-of-town prosecutor Dwight Dickham (BILLY BOB THORTON) is determined to prove the death was premeditated in the trial that will be presided over by Judge Warren (KEN HOWARD).

As Hank works to prepare that defense, he also runs into his former high school sweetheart, Samantha "Sam" Powell (VERA FARMIGA), who now owns the local diner, while he also sets his sights on the much younger Carla (LEIGHTON MEESTER) who works as a bartender in the local watering hole. But he most focus most on his father's case that could be derailed due to their tenuous past and present relationship.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Older teens might be, especially if they're fans of anyone in the cast or are into movies featuring judicial proceedings and lawyers.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For language including some sexual references.


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