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Film Reviews: The Judge (2014) & Hector and the Search for Happiness (2014)
Movies
stainsteelrat
The Judge (2014). Based on a story by Nick Schenk and David Dobkin, and directed by David Dobkin. Set initially in Chicago, Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.) is a successful lawyer who makes a living from defending rich guilty types. He is in the middle of a court case doing such when he receives a voicemail from his brother that his mother has died, and he immediately sets about returning to his small hometown in Indiana for the funeral. Despite the 142 minute running time I didn't feel it as much as I have with some recent films. The story moves along at a nice uniform pace, and although not rich with detail it has atmosphere and characters to help. Downey Jr. is playing Downey Jr. as per usual, but shows more emotional range than I remember. He is surrounded by a great cast. There's even a Bon Iver track, played twice. Not a classic in my opinion, but still very good. Recommended for drama fans who don't mind something a bit slow. 4/5 (Good)

Hector and the Search for Happiness (2014). Based on the book by François Lelord and directed by Peter Chelsom. The film starts with Hector (Simon Pegg) in a biplane, with a dog in the seat behind him. He turns the plane upside-down and the dog falls out. Hector notices some seconds later, and then an evil looking man appears in the seat and tries to throttle Hector. He is then woken up from the nightmare by his wife (Rosamund Pike). It's perhaps unfair to call Hector and the Search for Happiness an unholy mess, but it wasn't far off it in my opinion. The film acts as a road movie for the psychiatrist character that Pegg plays, so we get a number of chapters as he travels around the world in his search for what makes people happy. I did genuinely wonder if it was based on one of Jon Ronson's much less successful books, as it has that meandering feel to it. The story comes across as a trite self-help book though, and not even that. It also feels like it's been ten rounds in the editing room with the bits that might make you interested in the film left on the floor. Pegg isn't awful as such, but I'm personally bored of seeing him in the everyman role, and the characterisation in this film does him no favours at all. To start with he's a stereotypically reserved English bloke, which then changes for no obvious reason into the Pegg we're more familiar with. The character then flip flops all over the place, and I certainly didn't care much about him at any point in the film. As awful as it is to typecast an actor or actress, Rosamund Pike works best as some form of villain, and she just generally seems an odd choice as Pegg's girlfriend. If you like corny shallow nonsensical rubbish then give it a whirl. 1/5 (Awful)
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