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October 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The judgment from critics about The Judge has been mixed. They dole out much praise for the performances of Robert Duvall and Robert Downey Jr., reserving their criticism for the direction by David Dobkin and the script by Nick Schenk and Bill Dubuque. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times writes that the "powerful symbiotic acting [of the two stars] is the key reason to see this film." However, he adds, their performances are "often undercut by a weakness for middle-of-the-road sentiment and a desire to be all things to all people." A.O. Scott in the New York Times writes that Duvall’s performance in the title role is "the only reason to take an interest in this movie." The character, he remarks, amounts to "a collection of personality traits in search of a coherent character, which Mr. Duvall, by dint of sheer professionalism, comes very close to supplying." Otherwise, after the opening, which finds Downey, a hot-shot attorney, returning to the town of his youth after the death of his mother, the movie "turns into a crime story, and a supershouty, macho-weepy, buried-family-secrets melodrama." Mick LaSalle in the San Francisco Chronicle also cheers the performances of Downey and Duvall, while ripping the direction and script Of Downey, who has probably earned hundreds of millions of dollars over the past few years playing Iron Man, La Salle writes: "It’s especially good to see Downey so unguarded, lashing out, letting the emotion rise without comment. Beethoven once went five years without composing. Until now, Downey has gone five years without making anything close to a serious movie. The bigger waste of time was Beethoven’s, but talent wasted is talent wasted." Rex Reed in the New York Observer comments that the film amounts to "a synchronized duet for two terrific actors at the top of their craft that left me stunned." But Claudia Puig in USA Today gives the film a ho-hum review: "It’s well-acted, with some occasional moments of clever dialogue, but the story is plodding, predictable and tension-free," she writes.