David Dobkin's movie 'The Judge' is the opener at Toronto Film Festival - a slot not traditionally associated with high quality.
David Dobkin, the filmmaker best known for his classic comedy Wedding Crashers, brings an altogether different film to the Toronto Film Festival this week. His legal drama The Judge, starring Robert Downey Jr and Robert Duvall, opens this year's festival on Thursday (August 4, 2014).
"I hadn't had an opportunity to really dig in and do something like this in 20 years," Dobkin told the Canadian Press of his foray into drama. "There are a lot of intense scenes in the movie. You would think that comedies are more fun to work on and they're not always as fun as they come out. This movie was strangely cathartic."
The Judge stars Downey Jr as a brash and assured Chicago lawyer who returns to his hometown in Indiana for his mother's funeral. However, he is forced to stay after his ailing father (Duvall) is accused of a crime.
"I've always loved a lot of the dramas of the '70s that I grew up around, early '80s. I always wanted to make a movie like that, in the world of 'Kramer vs Kramer,' 'The Verdict,'" said the director.
"It was really nice to be able to work on it and really make it about performers and actors. Plus it was a very personal story and it was about realizing that moment in life when your parent needs you to be a parent and how you step into those shoes and how complicated and difficult that can be. And unexpected."
The Judge certainly has the pulling power to open Toronto - as well as Downey Jr and Duvall the movie features Vincent D'Onofrio, Vera Farmiga, Billy Bob Thornton, Dax Shepard, Ken Howard and Leighton Meester - however, the opening slot can be a tricky proposition.
In recent years, organisers have opened the festival with the Paul Gross' war movie Passchendaele, hockey comedy Score, WikiLeaks drama The Fifth Estate, thriller Looper and the U2 documentary From the Sky Down - hardly movies that went on achieve success during awards' season.
Still, Dobkin sees no downside in opening the festival.
"Oh my God we're totally thrilled. First of all, I love Toronto," he said, "My first movie was there 15 years ago.We love being (the opener). Things I love about the Toronto International Film Festival, specifically, is that it is an audience-driven festival of people who are movie lovers. It's not snooty and it's really approachable and fun and there's a 'joie de vivre' that I love about it."
The Judge will hit theaters in the U.S on October 10, 2014.