Want more recommendations for your family?
Sign up for our weekly newsletter for entertainment inspiration
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Forgiveness and redemption arrive when you least expect them -- you just have to be open to them.
Positive Role Models
Of the three Palmer brothers, Dale is the sweetest and the one who truly acts without agenda. Hank is angry at his father but finds a way to tap into a well of empathy he didn't know existed.
Violence & Scariness
The story centers on a murder trial; a man is found dead by the side of the road, presumably hit by a car. A man backs an SUV into a garage, denting it. Lots of screaming fights, including a really mean one between a couple about to divorce. A fist fight nearly erupts at a bar after a group of men makes fun of a mentally disabled man. A criminal says something venomous to an officer of the court.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
A guy makes out with a much younger girl at a bar, kissing her and groping her backside (they might be related). In another scene, old lovers make out and kiss passionately. A woman talks about pleasuring herself. Additional sexual references.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Frequent swearing, including "f--k," "hell," "piss," "ass," "a--hole," "s--t," "d--k," "bullsh-t," and more.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
Some labels/products seen or mentioned, including Ford, Facebook, Kool-Aid, Cadillac, and GoreTex.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A fair bit of drinking. Adult brothers get buzzed at a bar. Additional social drinking. An alcoholic takes a swig of hard liquor after a long dry spell.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Judge -- which stars Robert Downey, Jr. and Robert Duvall -- is an engrossing drama/legal thriller that covers some fairly mature, emotionally taxing terrain, including family estrangement, murder, power struggles, divorce, the death of a parent, and the emotions of the mourning process. But it also has themes of forgiveness and redemption. Characters swear frequently (including "a--hole," "s--t," and "f--k") and drink a fair bit, sometimes going overboard. Parents argue in front of and with their grown children, and a plot line about a murder includes shots of a mangled car and discussions of how a crime might have taken place. There's also some kissing/groping and a scene in which a woman talks about pleasuring herself. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
There's no doubt that Downey Jr. can deliver on pretty much any role he takes on. In THE JUDGE, he imbues Hank with a certain cynicism that only he could get away with without making the main character entirely unlikable. And likability is important here, because Hank wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea. He's arrogant, cocksure, and difficult in his own right.
The fact that the film's characters are complicated actually heightens its appeal. But Downey -- and, by extension, the film, since his character is so central to it -- might feel just a little too slick. There's a knowing sheen here that points to a self consciousness about the movie being a type of crowd-pleasing thriller, one that milks all the right emotional notes. But there's no false note in Duvall's performance. He allows the titular judge to be difficult to like, at best. There's one particular scene in which his character is subjected to the indignities of age and illness, and Duvall goes to all the necessary dark corners. To watch him and Downey, who's best when he's paired with Duvall, is to witness a master acting class.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.