The Descendants (6/15/12)

The DescendantsMovie One Hundred Forty Three

In The Descendants, after his wife ends up in a coma, a man must reconnect with his daughters as he struggles to deal with his enormous Hawaiian land inheritance.

Matt King (George Clooney) finds himself in two unusual predicaments. For the first, he is one of the descendants of Hawaiian royalty and has control of over 25,000 acres of untouched land on the island of Kauai. The second situation involves King’s wife, who was seriously injured in a boating accident and is now in a coma. King now has to deal with his two daughters growing up and his life is further complicated when he finds out his wife had been having an affair.

The Descendants is a film that I truly didn’t enjoy until the final 20 minutes when I was absolutely floored emotionally. I never would have guessed that I would have any emotional response since I had little interest in the story or even the characters. It turns out I was wrong about the latter but not really the former.

One thing I think that really irks me is the trailers for the film made this seem like a quirky indie comedy when it isn’t. Sure, there are a few moments that are supposed to be funny but I found them forced and even cringed at a few of them. I was not expecting such a touching story and had I expected it beforehand, I may have been more invested in more than the final quarter of The Descendants.

I will say this is one of my favorite roles for George Clooney. At times I have a hard time dealing with his roles where he oozes his Clooney charm, but here he is fairly human and raw. He is a hurt man and he portrays a hurt man well. There are also two other standout performances,  surprising ones at that,  from Matthew Lillard and Judy Greer.

The Descendants would still be a hard film for me to blindly recommend. The story is meandering, and many of the characters simply didn’t work for me. I was ready to give it a 3 star rating until it ended and I knew that there was no way I could get away with that since very few films move me to tears like The Descendants did. However, I still don’t think I would have any desire to watch it again.

I give it 4 I wish I owned this much of Hawaiis out of 5.


Rotten Tomatoes


30 responses to “The Descendants (6/15/12)

  1. Clooney and everybody else included is great but it’s really Payne who shines as the writer bringing out some funny humor but not without forgetting about the real rich moments of human drama. Good review Andy, as usual. A good film but not as great as I was expecting.

  2. I really love both sideways and About Shmidt, but for some reason this one didn’t really work for me. Iiked the performances and the dramatic stuff, but I think i may need to watch it again

    • Honestly, I’m not sure if multiple viewings would work in the favor of a film like this. I loved Sideways when I saw it in theaters but when I watched it again on DVD I was pretty nonplussed by it. I dunno, maybe you would have a different experience with this one.

  3. I think the script was really well done. The moment where he can’t “sleeping with” was very much appreciated by this screenwriting major. I liked this one a lot, as I discussed in my review earlier in the year =)

  4. This was my favorite film of last year. I’m a big fan of Alexander Payne, and this movie made me laugh and cry. It’s not a film for everyone, but I though it was great. Good review.

  5. I loved this movie. I may need to go back and check, but I believe I ranked it #4 of 2011. Using your scale, I’d give it the same grade, but that’s because your scale doesn’t use .5s. My grade, an A, would directly equivalate (I always have trouble with that word…) to 4.5 I wish I owned this much of Hawaiis out of five. Haha.

    I actually met Mary Birdsong a few months ago. She played Kai, the best friend, here, and she’s also been on a few Comedy Central shows. I know it’s not a bragging right–it would only be if I had met George Clooney–but it still makes me excited because she’s probably the only film performer I’ve met.

    Have you read the book? It’s pretty hard to compare to the movie. Of course, a few things are different between the two media (the largest change is the name of the comatose wife), but it’s still pretty sad. Maybe not as heavy in its seriocomic charm as the film.

    Great review.

    • Hahaha
      I think even if I was using half-points I would have given it a 4, for whatever that’s worth. Still, I think this would rank near the bottom of my top 10 of the year, but I’m not really sure about that.

      • Weird, for some reason I only got the first paragraph of your comment in my notification page…

        It’s always fun meeting celebrities, even if they aren’t mega-stars like Clooney. I’d love to meet her! I have not read the book but I wouldn’t mind picking it up one of these days. I love comparing films to their original sources.

  6. I like Clooney and it is a SHAME that Michael Clayton didn’t get best picture that year but I had no desire to watch this and then – here we go – I was a weepy sad sack the whole time thinking about how I can’t live without my wife. I doubt i’ll ever see it again but it was much better then I expected.

  7. At least you’re honest Andy. I have to say though, I loved this film. It had the perfect mix of humour and pathos for me and it’s definitely one of Clooney’s finer moments. I thought he should have been given the Oscar. (That is… Until I seen Fassbender in Shame.)

  8. I was underwhelmed by the plot and the characters, but the cinematography is simply stunning. Clooney was the only real stand-out for me and deserved his Oscar nom – despite it’s faults, it made me want a holiday in Hawaii!

  9. Great review. The trailer WAS a bit misleading and I agree that “the story is meandering, and many of the characters simply didn’t work”. The acting was absolutely stellar. Clooney should’ve won that Oscar and Woodley should’ve been nominated.

    • Out of the nominees, I agree Clooney gave the best performance but at the time I was OK with Dujardin winning. I think people are kind of “numb” to Clooney since he is always good, kind of like how Meryl Streep always gets nominated but hadn’t won in so long. I hope we see more roles like this in his future.

      • Yeah, I get what you mean. I guess I felt the same way. I wanted Clooney to win but I wasn’t mad at Dujardin beacuse he was pretty good, too. Agree with the Streep thing. And I also hope Clooney keeps taking risks and taking roles like the one he had in Descendants, out of his comfort zone and very different from his suave, offscreen persona.

  10. Pingback: June Movies Round-Up | Andy Watches Movies

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