We've seen this story countless times . A dysfunctional family drama focusing on parent/sibling conflict only to be resolved at the end through some mutual crisis. There is some saving grace however in this predictable new film watching the sparks fly between it's two stars, Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall.
Mr. Downey Jr. plays Hank Palmer, a high powered attorney who returns to his Indiana home for his mother's funeral. Mr. Duvall is his father, Judge Palmer and of course the two hate each other and haven't spoken in years. Both actors can play these roles in their sleep and really don't bring anything new to an already worn down theme. It is fun to watch them verbally sparring but that too gets old in a film that runs well over two hours.
Vera Farmiga co-stars as the "girl he left behind" and the rest of the cast includes Vincent D'Onofrio and Jeremy Strong as the other Palmer sons (both with their own issues), Billy Bob Thorton as a prosecutor, Dax Shepard as an inept lawyer and Emma Tremblay as Mr. Downey Jr's daughter.
It's no spoiler when I tell you Hank finds himself defending his father when he is accused of murder (it's the central plot of the film). Subplots include a quick tornado scare, a question of paternity, guilt over a family tragedy, and a secret illness. Screenwriter Bill Dubuque piles on the drama in an attempt to hide the fact we've seen this all before.
The outcome is inevitable and my verdict is disappointing but don't take my word for it, judge for yourself.