He sets out to discover the truth and along the way reconnects with the family he walked away from years before.
The seeds of the film’s story sprung from director David Dobkin’s experience with his own parents—a powerful attorney father and emotionally volatile mother—when he found himself in the difficult position of seeing his mother through the final stages of a terminal illness after his father passed.
Dobkin says he’s long harbored a desire to explore on film the complicated emotions inherent in an experience many adults find themselves thrown into. “Like me, I think a lot of people don’t realize that having to ‘parent a parent’ is a part of life—until it happens to them,” Dobkin reflects. “And when you’re unprepared for an experience like that, you make mistakes and have moments that you regret. But, as an artist, you get to go back and recreate those moments into what you wished they had been.”
Dobkin developed the story for “The Judge” with screenwriter Nick Schenk, which ultimately yielded a screenplay by Schenk and Bill Dubuque. Along the way, the director—who has become known for a string of blockbuster comedies like “Wedding Crashers”—found a passionate partner for this deeply personal project in Susan Downey, who produced the film with him and David Gambino.
Though “The Judge” is a studio movie, populated by a master class of actors, they always saw the project as a labor of love. “We faced a lot of challenges that we had to overcome, but we also had two really good things in our pocket,” Downey relates. “We had Robert Downey Jr. wanting to do it, which is a very helpful thing. But the reason Robert wanted to do it was because we had an amazing script.”
Susan Downey explains that the Team Downey production shingle was formed to seek out and support projects exactly like “The Judge.” Her partner at Team Downey and the film’s star, Robert Downey Jr. even tweeted about it. “He said it’s the kind of movie he’s wanted to make his whole life,” she smiles. “It has roots in the films we grew up loving—intelligent, character-driven stories told with humor and wit, and real emotion. It just had all the elements we were looking for when we first formed Team Downey. We decided that the best piece of material that came in would be the movie we would do first, and we were very fortunate that it happened to be The Judge.”
Opening across the Philippines on Oct. 22, 2014, “The Judge” is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.