• R, 1 hr. 55 min.
  • Drama, Comedy
  • Directed By:
    Alexander Payne
    In Theaters:
    Nov 18, 2011 Limited
    On DVD:
    Mar 13, 2012
  • Fox Searchlight Pictures


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The Descendants Reviews

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May 8, 2014
So many things you don't know about the people around you. So many selfish people. I liked this movie. It caught my attention without trying to be over the top.
May 6, 2014
The writing is strong with this one.
August 23, 2013
it is relatively slow. I am aware that it is also following the drama genre, but it is very bland. There is no deeper meaning to it other than the fatherhood portrayed, the overcoming struggle of the family. There is nothing explained, nor is there another perspective of it made clear. it is a fresh wind, as it roots differently from the others. And there were some big moments during the process of bringing the film close to life. Still, I am not truly impressed by it.
November 22, 2013
La trama, las actuaciones, la direccion, todo muy bien logrado
April 28, 2014
George Clooney is a VERY bad actor, and should just go away.

This movie was SO bad, I kept waiting for it to get better, but, it never did.

Clooney was far out acted by the kids in the film, ESPECIALLY by Nick Krause, a VERY talented young man.

This was a TOTAL waste of time.
August 10, 2013
Sad and painfully honest, The Descendants shows there can be trouble in paradise, but still has enough laughs to keep it from being too depressing (though that doesn't make it a comedy). George Clooney puts in a great performance, as does Shailene Woodley as his daughter.
April 18, 2014
The film has quite the knack for an interesting ensemble of characters in a specific place. A sharp and moving gem. -- A-
April 13, 2014
This well acted film treads the line between comedy and drama really well, it also looks great being set in Hawaii, has a really good script and is engaging and far from boring.
April 10, 2014
The Descendants is an amazing film. It is about a land baron tries to reconnect with his two daughters after his wife is seriously injured in a boating accident. George Clooney and Shailene Woodley give incredible performances. The screenplay is well written. Alexander Payne did a great job directing this movie. I enjoyed watching this motion picture because of the drama. The Descendants is a must see.
Patrick King - REEL BRIEF
April 4, 2014
This Oscar-nom for 'Best Pic' packs more tragedy than a Biography Channel episode on Lindsay Lohan...all with the paradise of Hawaii as the backdrop. George Clooney deserves an Oscar for Best Actor as he balances a comatose wife, a family falling apart, and settlement bids on prime HI property. Clooney is bland, but excellent--and says more with his expressions than his voice. For some, this movie will leave them feeling depressed long before the credits roll. But all will find the movie believable and watchable. Grade: B
March 31, 2014
Funny in parts but a little too predictable.
March 18, 2014
this should not be listed as a comedy.
D.A. Zapata
March 29, 2014
George Clooney, you brilliant bastard, you.
March 25, 2014
A comfortable drama with shades of grace that give it a unique touch.
November 15, 2011
Loved this movie! A great story with many moral dilemmas and strained/evolving relationships. Just enough humor, just enough drama. My favorite line: "give your kids enough to do something...but not enough to do nothing".

Watching this one again 2 1/2 years later.........even better than the first time!
February 6, 2014
Alexander Payne does not direct movies for me.
Much like Wes Anderson's work, I appreciate the look, about 25% of the humor and the smart writing. I also applaud the directors for having a distinct visual style to their films.
After The Descendants I feel the same way I did after watching Nebraska; somewhat disappointed, pretty bored, and uninspired.
The only other Payne flick I've ogled is About Schmidt, which I found even more underwhelming than his two most recent works.
What's good about this movie is it's subtle, but it's a long wait and a lot of Hawaiian soundtrack in between each nuance. I think more of the humor is supposed to hit home.
George Clooney's the best part of this movie.
At the same time, it's my least favorite film starring the Cloondogger.
This is at least his second time in the starring role where the movie opens with his voiceover. Up in the Air is another.
That Shailene Woodley's a solid young actress. I dig this chick; she seems very promising.
Shailene delivers just as excellently in The Spectacular Now where she plays a lovable sweetheart. (A great movie by the way.)
Judy Greer is the type of actress you've seen all over the place. She plays a hysterical character in Arrested Development, and is all-around tremendous. Hopefully we see more of her in the future.
Payne's clearly a fan of reversals and double reversals. He likes to build a swell of emotion, rinse it away with a wave of disappointment, and then provide a glimmer of hope through an unexpected and unprecedented character's behavior.
For example, in Nebraska, against all odds, Will Forte finds Bruce Dern's dentures lost in abandoned train tracks. When he shows them to his father, Dern claims they don't belong to him. Eventually, grabbing them, he says, "Of course they're my teeth." Up until that moment, we're given no hint Dern's character has a sense of humor. A similar exchange takes place when they steal the wrong air compressor.
This type of character interaction recurs throughout The Descendants. For example, Alex's friend Sid (played by Nick Krause) seems like an oblivious moron. He says something inappropriate to Matt, causing him to pull over the car.
Matt: [to Alex] Your friend is completely retarded, you know that?
Sid: Hey man, I've got a little brother who's retarded. Don't use that word in derogatory fashion.
Matt: Oh.
Sid: [laughing] Psych! No I don't have a retarded brother.
Ultimately, I come out of these moments feeling disappointed and unfulfilled. Sure the exchange catches me off guard but that jolt seems to be the end to the means. It happens four or five times. I guess that and the stilted humor are what I essentially disagree with. The shocking reversals and muted humor don't add up to a great film. (Despite such potential in the story's framework.)
Krause turns in a solid performance as well, but the scene in which he laughs at 'Tu-Tu' feels off.
The character of Scottie (played by Amara Miller) is painful. It reminds me of how I feel about Abigail Breslin in Little Miss Sunshine, another quirkedy with an annoying little girl. I don't understand the appeal in these types of characters.
When Scottie flicks off the well-meaning guy in the restaurant, is that supposed to be funny? The 'twat' scene, the cursing and stupidity? When she's wearing her sister's lingerie and dancing poolside? When they have the conversation about the sand in her bikini top?
Are all of those moments supposed to make us laugh? They're neither funny nor cute and detract greatly from the overall film.
Look. I know every feminist shakes her head at me and replies with some dismissive comment like, "Oh just get over it," or "Well then look forward to parenthood buddy." But my criticism is the exact same as it was after Moonrise Kingdom (a Wes Anderson film ironically enough):
It does the male audience a great disservice by having an excess of screen time featuring scantily clad little girls.
Not because of some gross proclivity.
It's the same aversion I feel to images of male genitalia. Every second it remains onscreen, I cringe into the seat cushion a little bit further.
And I only bring up this natural feeling of discomfort because I think that's what Payne's trying to 'challenge' (so to speak, I'm using that word loosely). Or he thinks she's adorable and funny. Either way, I don't think anything is gained through Scottie's character.
It's illustrative of a pattern I've recognized in A. Payne's recent filmography. Going back to the reversals thing, he likes to have women in the polar extremes of age exploring sexual and explicit themes. Just like June Squibb, an older woman, pulling up her skirt in front of some guy's tombstone. She's rubbing it in the dead guy's face that he never got inside her pants. I find that scene morbid and off-putting; not empowering, insightful or worthy of a chuckle.
There's a beautiful camera shot down a set of hospital stairs, while Matt's voiceover speaks above the sound of his ascending footsteps. He is heading to find out his wife must be taken off the machines and will soon die.
And the entire movie is a series of sequences; a number of character interactions where others talk down to Matt about his choices. Like the staircase, they can only watch from above, and patronize.
Except the kids, all other characters condescend to Matt, are inconsiderate of his feelings and pride themselves for praising his comatose wife in comparison. It's mostly a despicable lot he encounters.
And yet he keeps his mouth shut. Towards the end, we see a tiny victory in this choice.
But this 'glimmer in the darkness' doesn't distill the discomforting sadness (and often boredom) one must wade through to get there.
I don't know. I'm not trying to rain on the Payne parade, but it's just not my spot of tea.
The Descendants is a good enough movie. I call it 'good' because it's visually stunning, and intelligent. It's easily watchable, but there's just a lot of better stuff out there. Especially starring Clooney.
Might I suggest the aforementioned Up in the Air, instead, perhaps?
It touches on a bit more sadness, but it's just as intelligent plus more captivating and fun.
Best of all?
No quirky teenage girls.

Super Reviewer

August 10, 2011
I don't expect too high for Alexander Payne's movies because even though a lot of people love his work, especially the critics, but he clearly wasn't one of my favorite.. But what I saw for after 2 hours are a masterpiece from Payne with an outstanding performance from George Clooney and a show stealer performance from Shailene Woodley.. The story is light, kinda boring a little, but it's stunning me..
March 17, 2014
Kinda depressing, but #ShaileneWoodley is fine.
January 23, 2014
A tender, gracious film that treats some dark, troubling issues like death and infidelity with poise and decency, intelligently giving only glimpses of the truly ugly feelings that give the film an undertone, but don't dominate its mood. George Clooney gives a solid performance as a man trying to hold everything together in the midst of personal turmoil.
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