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181 of 208 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Unique Family Dramedy About Searching For Truth, But Finding Something More Important
It seems hard to believe that it's been seven years since Alexander Payne's "Sideways" became the critical darling of 2004. Nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and winning Payne an Adapted Screenplay Oscar--that picture (along with Election and About Schmidt) signaled a talented filmmaker with an unorthodox worldview. Blending elements of comedy and...
Published on December 1, 2011 by K. Harris

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30 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A really good "movie-of-the-week"
While "The Descendants" is well acting and directed, and entertaining on, at least, a basic level, it seems to slip from memory almost as one leaves the theater.

One podcast critic expressed a view that this film is "a mile wide and an inch deep". That, to me, says it exactly. If I had seen "The Descendants" on TV as a "movie-of-the-week" I would have...
Published on January 22, 2012 by Robert Blenheim


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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not much to see here, April 13, 2012
This review is from: The Descendants (DVD)
this movie is just very average. the story seems a bit forced many times and it tries to twist a few emotions out of you but there is never really any depth or anything to feel a conviction about in the story. it feels like it's trying to push buttons from the formulas from other stories (wow, that was a mixed metaphor). the whole hawaii setting never felt like a good match to me either.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easily one of the best movies of they year. Clooney is great, but his daughter is amazing in this. WATCH THIS MOVIE! I say A+, March 12, 2012
By 
Tony Heck (Belgrade, MT USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Descendants (DVD)
"I'm ready to be a real husband and father, just wake up. Please Liz, just wake up." Mike King (Clooney) is having a rough time. He is the trustee for his families land in Hawaii and is about to finalize the sale of it. He has two daughters he is trying to raise with thier mother and his wife in a coma. At the time he gets the news that his wife is for all accounts dead he finds out that she was also cheating on him. There are some movies that are so good that after you watch there really are no words to describe it. This is one of those movies. Anything I say may cheapen the way this movie makes you feel. I can say that Clooney did an amazing job in this movie. He plays a guy that is down on his luck and a type of "everyman"...and he makes it believable. For someone like Clooney to pull that off is amazing. Also the girl that plays his older daughter is absolutly wonderful and almost steals the movie. This is again a movie that needs to be watched but there are not enough words to describe why. Overall, one of the best movies of the year and I have to say "The Artist" must be amazing in order to beat this for best picture. I give it an A+
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LOVE this movie!, April 5, 2014
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Being from, and living in, Hawaii, I found this movie to be pretty true to life. Of course we don't all live in the fancy homes the characters do, still, they were likable and easy to relate to. The soundtrack is also a must-have! It so perfectly suits the movie. Buy them together, you won't be sorry.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A Well-Acted By-The-Numbers Tragedy Flick, amid beautiful surroundings, September 21, 2014
By 
Winston Steward (A Very Cold Place) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Descendants (DVD)
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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3.0 out of 5 stars The Oscar winner regarded by many as Hollywood’s leading man has not always picked the best projects. Last year, August 19, 2014
By 
Tom S (Philadelphia, PA) - See all my reviews
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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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Family Angst and Mid-Life Crises in Paradise Anchored by Clooney's Sterling Work, December 11, 2011
This review is from: The Descendants (DVD)
There's a great line in this 2011 dramedy spoken in a voiceover by the protagonist: "Give your children enough money to do something but not so much that they do nothing." I'm not sure if that came from author Kaui Hart Hemmings' source novel or from director/co-screenwriter Alexander Payne's pen. Regardless, it's hard to believe Payne hasn't directed a full-length feature since the acclaimed Sideways in 2004, as this 2011 dramedy most definitely bears his signature approach in focusing on a core set of flawed characters with a deft seriocomic hand. Although the movie is not quite at the level of Sideways in shaggily mixing humor with pathos, it does boast a strong performance from George Clooney as Matt King, a wealthy O'ahu-based lawyer with Hawaiian blood, who finds himself in the enviable position of being the sole trustee of 25,000 acres of untouched land on Kaua'i. Dictated by state law, he is just about to get his extended family of cousins to reach consensus on selling the land to a native developer when tragedy strikes.

Co-written by Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, the main narrative revolves around a boating accident that puts Matt's wife Elizabeth into a coma. This tragedy highlights the fact that King, a workaholic by nature, has distanced himself from his two daughters, ten-year-old Scottie and 17-year-old Alex. Suddenly, he discovers he needs to step forward and confront Scottie's bullying at school and Alex's rebellious hostility. When it becomes clear to him that Elizabeth will never recover, he tells Alex they need to visit family members to give them an opportunity to say goodbye. The strenuously resistant Alex surprises him by sharing that she caught her mother having an affair before the accident. This starts a family journey that gives way to revelations and confrontations which allow him to acknowledge his own failures and make peace with what the future will bring. On the surface, the story sounds like it will turn into a straight-ahead tearjerker, but thanks to Payne's discretion, the emotions the characters express and the situations they face are far more disheveled than that and consequently more compelling.

It's not that Clooney does anything that takes him that far away from his usual screen persona here. Rather, he backseats his trademark coolness to convey a deeper level of vulnerability and confusion as a man unprepared for single parenthood. As Alex, Shailene Woodley gives a terrifically nuanced performance traversing easily between unbridled insolence and supportive nurturing. Amara Miller provides the right level of precocious honesty in her moments as Scottie. The rest of the cast makes less of an impression, for instance, Robert Forster as Matt's highly coiled father-in-law and Judy Greer as the unsuspecting wife of the realtor who had the affair with Elizabeth. The one fly in the ointment is Nick Krause, who appears to serve purely as a comic plot device as Alex's stoner-dude pal Sid. This character is the one major misstep in Payne's treatment. On the upside, cinematographer Phedon Papamichael captures the Hawaiian locations with greater variety than you would expect, and the soundtrack uses purely Hawaiian music to great effect. This is worthwhile viewing mostly for Clooney's work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Hawaii, March 30, 2014
By 
Barbara Osborne (Woodbridge, VA, US) - See all my reviews
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It was a really good movie about having to deal with death and learning unpleasant things along the way. The movies title which is about George's struggle about what to do about a trust from his forefathers is just part of the real story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars George does it again, April 6, 2014
By 
Annette Radocaj "Annette" (Tumbi Umbi,NSW,Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: The Descendants (DVD)
This is a quiet 'little' film about a man who finds his dead wife was not what she semed.
Character driven with wonderful performances by all the cast.
Nice to see an intelligent look at anhappy incident.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Film Should Have Received Best Picture, Best Actor, etc., April 25, 2012
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This review is from: The Descendants (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy) (Blu-ray)
I went to see this film in a theatre, on the big screen. I also saw The Artist on the same day. I don't know what the Academy was thinking. Although this film received the Oscar for Best Screenplay, it was robbed of Best Director, Best Actor and Best Film. This movie follows the book very closely, at times, word for word. It is skillfully directed, and blended into what is easily George Clooney's finest performance of his career. The cinematography is crisp and has great lighting, unlike other films that are too light or overly dark. Having the story take place in Hawaii helps too.

The scenery is fresh and tells the story with unique twists. The performances of all the main characters is first rate. It is a contemporary film of the present day so language can be explicit and it is geared for adult audiences, not for young children. There has been enough written about the plot from the book. The film does alter certain aspects of the novel, but it is skillfully accomplished without damaging the overall theme. The Blu-ray delivers a crisp and clear product, you will be pleased with the visual energy. You may want to bring a hanky, it touches the emotions on several different levels. Shailene Woodley and Amara Miller, who play Clooney's daughters turn in some top-notch performances. The character of Sid is also noteworthy.

See the movie when everyone is asleep or at least turn off the cell phone. This movie is the must-see of 2012.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great movie, March 22, 2014
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Really interesting. I like that it was set in Hawaii. I felt that there was something missing at the end. They were all too calm despite what they had been through. Anyway, it was still really good to watch.
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The Descendants (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy)
The Descendants (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy) by Alexander Payne (Blu-ray - 2012)
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