Customer Reviews: The Descendants (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy)
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on September 21, 2014
I Don't know what it is about Hollywood and movie wives/mothers dying young. If you watch enough movies, you'd get the impression nice mothers are an endangered species. I suppose it's easy drama - the dad has to learn to focus on the remaining family, always presented in awkward, well-meaning mini-steps. Finally, the kids move on from anger to realizing that dad is really tryin' here, and then . . . groups hugs all around, while the credits roll. Lather, rinse, repeat. It was worse in the 90's. My kids and I would see it coming a mile off, a supposedly off-handed comment "You never know what day will be your last," a lost opportunity for closeness, which becomes fodder for regret for the rest of the movie, and my kids and I would finally blurt out "Oh, no, mommy got the movie cancer!" One fascinating feature of most of these "I wake up each morning and remember to breath," films is the plot never involves a family in financial distress. Tom Hanks, the most famous bereaved dad of them all, was a successful Seattle architect. In this movie, George Clooney is a Hawaii land baron. I can't think of one movie on this topic I've ever seen that explores the way that a parent's death would utterly upend a family of limited finances. I suppose that's why the film-makers put such characters in money, so they can focus on the low-lying fruit - the tears and emotional toll of mom being gone, without the follow-up punch of the hospital and doctors coming to foreclose the house, which is what happens to real people. The Descendants is very careful to follow up each scene of life-without-mom trauma with breathtaking views of beaches and mountains, the kids are grouchy but smart and articulate, and George Clooney gets to march through the proceedings being his usual thoughtful, well-spoken and well-adjusted self. The Descendants did allow themselves one minor twist on the usual theme: Mom was not exactly a model parent or wife. Beyond that, it's a by-the-numbers Family Drama made quite watchable by a better-than-average script and very talented cast.
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VINE VOICEon May 4, 2013
I watched this looking for the funny best movie of the year that I was told was in store for me. I didn't find it. Here's what I got instead.

Characters I can't respect or identify with- Clooney is an out-of-touch wimp with no healthy boundaries. When his daughter tells him that his wife, who is in a coma, has cheated on him, he decides to share all his next steps with his daughter and her friend. I suppose that is why his kids don't respect him and curse in front of him. SPOILER ALERT: His wife's lover's wife comes to the hospital (flying from another island) to see his dying wife because her husband won't because he doesn't love her. Then she tells the dying woman that she forgives her. That is just not realistic. It's bizarre.

Wasted location- There are LOTS of movies where the location is a huge part of the movie. It's like a silent supporting actor. This film looks as it it were set up that way, but fails to make that happen. I don't know if it is the way it was shot or what, but Hawaii never comes across as this pristine, romantic landscape worth saving. Since a big chunk of the plot revolves around that, it's a huge disappointment.

Lack of cohesiveness- It looks like this was supposed to be a movie about a family drama, death, love, life, the continuation of life, and healing. Bubbles of those things pop up, but they never blend. They never gel. They are just elements instead of ingredients woven into the fabric of the story that create a cohesive picture. It's like telling a story by saying, "This and this, and then that and that. Get it?"

There were funny moments that made my lips move to the side of my mouth, but nothing laugh-out-loud or even really smile cracking humor.

It's not a complete waste. I didn't feel like I lost two hours of my life, but I wouldn't watch it again or recommend it to anyone else. It didn't entertain me, didn't make me reflect, and didn't teach me anything.
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on July 8, 2013
Although I remain a more devout fan of the novel, this movie delivers. Clooney & cast fill the screen with believable family relationships and trauma. The viewer is welcomed into the fold to experience love, imperfection, and ultimately, healing.
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on March 14, 2013
Beautiful scenery of an area of the islands seldom presented.Everybody knows about the "Big Island, but nothing of the smaller islands in the chain.This was fascinating to watch visually as the photography was excellent as well as the storyline, to help explain the "other islands."
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on May 24, 2012
This was an entertaining movie that was both funny and serious. In many ways it was somewhat depressing but they kept adding in small story lines that were slightly rediculous and therefore funny. A good movie to rent!
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on August 19, 2014
George Clooney is not infallible. The Oscar winner regarded by many as Hollywood’s leading man has
not always picked the best projects. Last year, his one film, The American, was mediocre at best. Maybe
2009 was Clooney’s best year with The Fantastic Mr. Fox and one of my favorites Up in the Air.
This year, his film offerings are The Ides of March, which was more political cliché than political thriller
and his latest offering The Descendants, from Alexander Payne, the director who gave us Oscar-winner
Sideways (2004). Payne has had a successful yet somewhat overlooked body of work that includes great
films as Sideways, very good films like About Schmidt (2002) with Jack Nicolson, and admittedly some
not-so-great films like I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (2007), where he probably like to forget he
was the screenwriter. My favorite Payne film is one you likely haven’t seen. In a 2006 compilation of
short films entitled Paris, Je T'aime, his film 14e Arrondissement was truly one of my favorites (special
thanks to Terri A. for pointing out this great collection).
Payne’s The Descendants ranks with About Schmidt in the very good category. This latest offering tells
the story of Matt King (played by Clooney) whose wife is in coma as a result of a boating accident. King
struggles to rebuild relationships with his two daughters and to deal with skeletons he didn’t even know
were in his closet. All of this is set against the backdrop of a candid look at the Hawaiian landscape, of
which King and his cousins own a substantial piece that the family nearly all agrees they want to sell to a
property developer.
The script of this film was heavy with expository dialogue. There is a lot of lag between moments that
are truly moving but never inspiring. The film is well directed and well written with a cast that is very
good, and they give performances that are… well… very good. In the end, like a student with great
potential who is getting Bs, you want this film to rise from very good to exceptional. While it never gets
there, it’s still better than most other films in its class.
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on May 20, 2012
What's it about?

George Clooney plays a husband stricken by the grief of his comatose wife, only to find out she was having an affair.

Is it any good?

Alexander Payne of Sideways fame has crafted another brilliant character driven piece, where you don't know whether you want to laugh or cry...or both. George Clooney is amazing as the highly strung man, dealing with not only his wife, but his dysfunctional family. His performance was very worthy of an Oscar Nomination and probably should have won. With so many formulaic films now days, it is certainly refreshing to watch something that is original and genuinely uncertain as to how it would end. It's ironic that initially the film baulks at showing Hawaii only as the `tourist mecca' we have all seen, but by the end it returns to scenery we all know and love, painting a picture of paradise. This is arguably the best film of 2011.

Best bit?

George travels to a douchebag real estate mogul's holiday home to confront him about his relationship with his wife.

Did you know?

Having been nominated for 5 Academy Awards, the film only managed to win Best Adapted Screenplay.
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on March 4, 2013
This movie was: well acted, well paced and well restrained. It could have gone a number of easy directions but it controlled itself and it paid off. I don't recommend many films but hti is an easy call.
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on March 27, 2012
I really liked this film. George Clooney did a terrific job. The two girls that play his daughters are very good. Beautiful scenery because it takes place in Hawaii and a really good story. I strongly recommend this movie.
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on April 22, 2014
Families live on different financial levels. But there are common themes every family deals with. Acceptance, communication, understanding, even empathy - or the lack of any of these. Money does not guarantee anything. A synopsis of this movie is available everywhere, including details in the reviews. My appreciation for the actors is best expressed in how they didn't seem to be acting. I was watching inside the walls, on the beach, in the airplane as a family struggled to cope and move on from 'the big tragedy' and all the small ones as well. One broken family plus one broken friend would seem to be a formula for disaster. Instead, they made it real. I loved everyone in the movie. The music gets its own 5 stars.
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