Director: David Dobkin
Writer: Nick Schenk, Bill Dubuque
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Billy Bob Thornton, Vincent D’Onofrio,Jeremy Strong, Dax Shepard, Leighton Meester, David Krumholtz, Denis O’Hare
Hank (Robert Downey Jr.) fled from his hometown and his harsh, strict father (Robert Duvall), a well-respected judge, as soon as he was able to and never returned. Now a successful lawyer, Hank finally has to make the trip back home after his mother dies. But practically as soon as he arrives, his father becomes a murder suspect, forcing Hank to stay longer and not only confront his feelings about his father, but also his two brothers Dale (Jeremy Strong) and Glen (Vincent D’Onofrio), and even his old girlfriend Samantha (Vera Farmiga).
I wouldn’t have thought it possible that a film with that cast could ever bore me – because if all else fails, there’d still be this brilliant cast to watch – but thanks to a really bad script and uninspired direction, the film managed just that.
From the trailer it was clear that the film would be a pretty straight-forward, manipulative “ice cold guy learns the meaning of family” kind of story. I expected nothing else and that is pretty much what the film was, predictable plot and all. But it did surprise me, mostly negatively, with almost everything else. Smaller things were the atrocious green screen moments (and if they weren’t actually green screen that a serious talk should be had with the cinematographer who made them look like that) or the completely unnecessary incest twist.
But it wasn’t just small problems, there were bigger ones, too. I never connected to any of the characters because they just didn’t rise above carboard cutouts. No emotional connection coupled with length and bad pacing meant that I was completely bored and the movie felt like it was approximately 17 hours long.
But flat characters weren’t the writing’s only problem. The dialogues felt like you could talk along with them, despite seeing the film for the first time which made the film even more predictable than just the plot would have made it. Plus, in a perfect shitstorm of writing, directing and editing, Glen’s family is never introduced or actually shown until they’re suddenly at the breakfast table in the background, leaving you wondering exactly who they are and why they’re shown in the first place. Usually it’s just women who could be replaced by a sexy lamp, in this film it’s an entire family who could be replaced by a comfy sofa or something.
The film wants many things and fails pretty much at all of them, despite its stellar cast. What a waste of everything.