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The Descendants

2011

R CC

Matt King (George Clooney) attempts to repair his relationship with his two daughters after his wife is in a boating accident off of Waikiki.

Starring:
George Clooney, Shailene Woodley
Runtime:
1 hour, 54 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Drama, Comedy
Director Alexander Payne
Starring George Clooney, Shailene Woodley
Supporting actors Amara Miller, Nick Krause, Patricia Hastie, Grace A. Cruz, Kim Gennaula, Karen Kuioka Hironaga, Carmen Kaichi, Kaui Hart Hemmings, Beau Bridges, Matt Corboy, Matt Esecson, Michael Ontkean, Stanton Johnston, Jon McManus, Hugh Foster, Tiare R. Finney, Tom McTigue, Milt Kogan
Studio 20th Century Fox
MPAA rating R (Restricted)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. Harris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on December 1, 2011
Format: DVD
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 drama, Payne has crafted complex characters simultaneously frustrating and sympathetic--but altogether real. In adapting Kaui Hart Hemmings' intimate novel "The Descendants" to the big screen, Payne demonstrates (once again) a deft balance of emotions to create a picture both funny and heartbreaking. I so admired how Payne made vineyards and fine wines a major component, an extra character really, in the sublime "Sideways." In much the same way, Hawaii is a principle character (and I would contend one of the most pivotal) to "The Descendents." It would be easy to imagine someone jettisoning much of this rich texture, but Payne has crafted a loving tribute to the state's heritage in addition to one of the year's most surprising family dramas.

George Clooney plays one of the titular descendants, someone whose family has great historical significance to the Hawaiian Islands. In fact, he and his many cousins own a great tract of undeveloped land that plays a major role in the film's fascinating side story. Front and center, however, is a more personal tale of family dysfunction and pulling together in crisis. When Clooney's somewhat estranged wife is incapacitated in an accident, Clooney must take charge of his troublesome teenage daughter (an astute Shailene Woodley) and his rebellious younger girl (an appealingly unexpected Amara Miller).
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Format: DVD
It is pretty difficult to describe what kind of a film Alexander Payne's new film "The Descendants" is. Some will think it is a comedy drama about messy nature of life. Others may feel the film is rather sad, dealing with life's most devastating moment. Perhaps both views are right.

The story itself is simple. George Clooney plays Matt King, a successful Hawaiian lawyer and sole trustee of pristine land on Kauai Island. His wife Elizabeth has been in coma since the boating accident a few weeks ago. Having been too busy, he doesn't know how to talk to his two daughters, precocious 10-year-old Scottie (Amara Miller) and rebellious 17-year-old Alex (Shailene Woodley). In his voiceover Matt pleads with his wife to wake up.

Ironically it is Matt who has to "wake up." He learns that his comatose wife had been "seeing" someone. With his wife's health deteriorating, Matt sets out to seek the truths about that guy, with his daughters and Alex's slacker friend Sid (Nick Krause) only to find unexpected consequences. And Matt has to make a grave decision about a tract of land in less than a week.

With the beautifully shot on-location photography in Hawaii, "The Descendants" sometimes looks like a visual travelogue, but the beautiful images sometime hide uncomfortable surprises and facts Matt didn't want to know. The film is part Matt's spiritual journey that is, skillfully told by the director, is amusing and touching at the same time without relying on conventional settings. It may not be all that uplifting, but overall optimistic.

The film is in a sense a character study of Matt (played superbly by George Clooney), but other characters are equally intriguing.
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Comment 28 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
Directed by the creator of the Oscar-winning SIDEWAYS, The Descendants starts when Matt King, a "back-up" father (his words) must slow down his career to take care of his two daughters (17 and 11) while his wife is in the hospital in a comma caused by a boat accident. Soon we learn, his wife, spurned by Matt's long absences and indifference, was having an affair. Matt and his older daughter decide to search for this man they never met dragging along the younger girl and the oldest girl's boyfriend, and, of course, the viewer.

The Descendants has many things going for it. George Clooney, for one, beautiful views of two of the islands of Hawaii, a strong story that does not shy away from reality and avoids the sugarcoating so prevalent in Hollywood movies, and great acting from all the actors including the aforementioned Mr. Clooney.

Yet, I cannot say I loved it.

Why? Because it is a realistic take on fatherhood and marriage and, after watching the trailer, I expected something lighter.

This is not the movie's fault. The Descendants is a serious movie and that's perfectly all right. I like serious movies. But not when I am expecting something else.

So, now that you know, please go and enjoy. It's worth seeing. Just don't go for the laughs.
1 Comment 26 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Blu-ray
I had missed this highly rated (by the critics) movie in theaters, so I finally got around to renting the Blu-ray over the weekend.

It's mostly a sad drama about a man slowly losing his wife after a boating accident, but there are a few comedic moments along the way that are realistic, rather than forced. The writing and the entire cast are great. I'm not the biggest George Clooney fan, but his work in Up in the Air and The Descendants has totally made me a believer in his acting talents when given the right material. The girl who plays his oldest daughter is very good as well. One of the better movies I've seen in 2012 and worth checking out.
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