When we see both Robert Downey Jr. AND Robert Duvall are in a film, we are ready to be impressed. Directed by David Dobkin ("Shanghai Knights") from an R-rated screenplay by Nick Schenk ("Gran Torino") and Bill Debuque (first time out), we have every right to feel optimistic because these guys understand family dynamics and the indignities of illness and aging.
Here are a few of the actors we admire:
- Robert Downey Jr. ("Iron Man") is Hank Palmer, a successful big-city lawyer returned to his home town to bury his mother. Then he is called back when his father is arrested for murder, but his client will NOT cooperate.
- Robert Duvall ("Seven Days in Utopia") is Judge Joseph Palmer, the most cantankerous, arbitrary, curmudgeonly old coot you will ever hope to see! He and his alienated son go at it hammer and tongs!
- Vera Farmiga ("Up in the Air") is Samantha, the high-school crush who never left town. She has a few surprises up her sleeve, too. And her description of Hank's "verbal diarrhea" is cutting and true.
- Billy Bob Thornton ("Fargo") is Dwight Dickham, the slick prosecuting attorney who deliberately sought this case because he is holding a grudge.
- Vincent D'Onofrio ("Law & Order") Glen Palmer is Hank's brother; they share a tragic history.
- Jeremy Strong ("Parkland") is their third brother, Dale. We can see right away that he is mentally impaired, but he is sweet and loving.
With such sterling performances, there are many entertaining moments, but I particularly like the jury selection based on bumper stickers and the way small-town America is evoked with a simple ride through town.
They say you can't go home again, but our hero just might have to...