The Descendants (2011)



Critic Consensus: Funny, moving, and beautifully acted, The Descendants captures the unpredictable messiness of life with eloquence and uncommon grace.

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From Alexander Payne, the creator of the Oscar-winning Sideways, set in Hawaii, The Descendants is a sometimes humorous, sometimes tragic journey for Matt King (George Clooney) an indifferent husband and father of two girls, who is forced to re-examine his past and embrace his future when his wife suffers a boating accident off of Waikiki. The event leads to a rapprochement with his young daughters while Matt wrestles with a decision to sell the family's land handed down from Hawaiian royalty and missionaries. -- (C) Fox Searchlight
R (for language including some sexual references)
Comedy , Drama
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Written By:
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George Clooney
as Matt King
Shailene Woodley
as Alexandra King
Amara Miller
as Scottie King
Beau Bridges
as Cousin Hugh
Patti Hastie
as Elizabeth King
Robert Forster
as Scott Thorson
Judy Greer
as Julie Speer
Matthew Lillard
as Brian Speer
Grace A. Cruz
as Scottie's Teacher
Kim Gennaula
as School Counselor
Karen Kuioka Hironaga
as Barb Higgins
Carmen Kaichi
as Lani Higgins
Kaui Hart Hemmings
as Matt's Secretary Noe
Matt Corboy
as Cousin Ralph
Matt Esecson
as Cousin Hal
Michael Ontkean
as Cousin Milo
Stanton Johnston
as Cousin Stan
Jonathan McManus
as Cousin Six
Hugh Foster
as Cousin Wink
Tiare R. Finney
as Cousin Connie
Tom McTigue
as Cousin Dave
Milt [Lewis] Kogan
as Dr. Johnston
Mary Birdsong
as Kai Mitchell
Rob Huebel
as Mark Mitchell
Laird Hamilton
as Troy Cook
Aileen "Boo" Arnold
as Dorm Supervisor
Esther Kang
as Alex's Roommate
Melissa Kim
as Alex's Drunken Friend
Barbara Lee Southern
as Alice "Tutu" Thorson
Zoel Turnbull
as Hotel Clerk
Linda Rose Herman
as Grief Counselor
Scott Michael Morgan
as Barry Thorson
Darryl K. Gonzales
as Tahiti Nui Singer (Kanak Attack)
Koko Kanealii
as Tahiti Nui Singer (Kanak Attack)
Romey "Keola" Yokotake
as Tahiti Nui Singer (Kanak Attack)
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Critic Reviews for The Descendants

All Critics (241) | Top Critics (50)

The Descendants is humane, decent, and close to real quality.

Full Review… | June 20, 2013
The New Republic
Top Critic

Payne is an unobtrusive director, a filmmaker who lets the script do the walking - in this case, perhaps too much.

Full Review… | January 24, 2012
Time Out
Top Critic

The challenge in describing the film is that it doesn't neatly fit into any pigeonhole. It's a serious movie that happens to have a sense of humor, because Payne and his collaborators see the absurdity in everyday existence.

Full Review… | December 2, 2011
Top Critic

One of the year's best films, a bubbly meditation on family and responsibility that weighs just enough to matter.

Full Review… | November 22, 2011
Detroit News
Top Critic

In the hands of writer-director Alexander Payne, Clooney has rarely seemed so much at home.

Full Review… | November 22, 2011
Miami Herald
Top Critic

In playing an everyman stranded between anger and duty, Clooney earns an emotional payoff that a lesser actor would simply demand.

Full Review… | November 22, 2011
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Descendants


A predictable pseudo-indie drama lazily written by someone who seems to have no clue about real people's lives, built around artificial conflicts and embarrassing moments of humor, and centered on a group of pathetic characters who are really hard for us to care about.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer


Boring and vacuous. Would have been better if the story was not focused on Matt (George Clooney) but an Arrested Development style ensemble examination of the whole family. Shouldn't have won a writing Oscar. Watch for the shots of Hawaii.

_kelly .King
_kelly .King

Super Reviewer

Clooney is an unlikely lawyer in Hawaii preparing for the deal of the century when his wife goes into a coma through an boating accident. What happens next, presented in a touching family drama kind of way, is the interpersonal family business of burying the dead, warts and all. Not bad, and a depiction of Hawaii not usually seen.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

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