The Descendants

User Score
7.7

Generally favorable reviews- based on 421 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 19 out of 421
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  1. Jan 6, 2012
    4
    I left wondering what the fuss was about. Not awful, certainly, but nothing I would have recommended to others. I didn't feel any emotional connection to the characters - it was an oddly distant feeling film for such a personal story. Clooney is fine, as he typically is, but is a version of himself, again as he typically is.
  2. Dec 29, 2011
    4
    There is something going on in Alexander Payneâ
  3. Jan 7, 2012
    4
    Disappointing! Overrated! Boring! This movie is one more reason to ignore all professional critics. The premise is interesting and the background story is encouraging but the plot takes us nowhere and leaves us with an ending totally unsatisfying.

    As far as awards season is concerned, I'll be upset if this movie or any of the actors wins anything and quite frankly I don't see how they can
    Disappointing! Overrated! Boring! This movie is one more reason to ignore all professional critics. The premise is interesting and the background story is encouraging but the plot takes us nowhere and leaves us with an ending totally unsatisfying.

    As far as awards season is concerned, I'll be upset if this movie or any of the actors wins anything and quite frankly I don't see how they can even expect any nominations. I was unimpressed with both of George Clooney's dauhgters and if Shailene Woodley is even nominated it will be a sad reflection on the state of motion pictures. Of course the drums are beating for another Clooney Oscar but quite frankly I didn't see anything special in his portrayal of the main character. He was much better in the "Ides of March" and compared to his Oscar winning role in "Syriana" this performance is just ordinary. Both the real estate sale and the wife's final demise are too drawn out and by the end of this film I didn't care about any of the characters or what happens to them. If you must see this film wait until it's on HBO.
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  4. Nov 29, 2011
    4
    I went to this movie because of the director and GC who is always good at his craft. While the film itself is shot well and draws you in, at the end I was left wanting. The trailer made me feel the laughs would be steady throughout, but I found my wife and I laughing at how depressing the movie would get at times. I am guilty of expecting something as good as Sideways (which is in myI went to this movie because of the director and GC who is always good at his craft. While the film itself is shot well and draws you in, at the end I was left wanting. The trailer made me feel the laughs would be steady throughout, but I found my wife and I laughing at how depressing the movie would get at times. I am guilty of expecting something as good as Sideways (which is in my collection and I've watched several times). I know it will garner award nominations, but all I felt afterwards was depressed and in need of a pick me up. Go back and look at the trailer after viewing the film and tell me I'm wrong. Expand
  5. Dec 30, 2011
    4
    I am very surprised at the positive reviews after just having watched this film. The acting feels forced throughout, as if poorly directed. Clooney's performance is superb sometimes and weak other times. Many dialogues feel contrived. The film fits nowhere: It is not quirky enough, not funny enough, not dramatic enough, not serious enough, not realistic enough, not anything enough toI am very surprised at the positive reviews after just having watched this film. The acting feels forced throughout, as if poorly directed. Clooney's performance is superb sometimes and weak other times. Many dialogues feel contrived. The film fits nowhere: It is not quirky enough, not funny enough, not dramatic enough, not serious enough, not realistic enough, not anything enough to have an identity. Nothing is unique or special about the movie. It left me with no feeling at all - numb and bored. Expand
  6. Jan 1, 2012
    4
    First, I have loved Payne's previous movies, in particular About Schmidt. The problem with this movie is it felt like he was just trying to recreate the same movie in Hawaii. And as much as I like George Clooney, he wasn't believable as an everyday Joe. However, in About Schmidt, I bought Jack Nicholson as an everyday guy from Nebraska who was seriously depressed about his life. IFirst, I have loved Payne's previous movies, in particular About Schmidt. The problem with this movie is it felt like he was just trying to recreate the same movie in Hawaii. And as much as I like George Clooney, he wasn't believable as an everyday Joe. However, in About Schmidt, I bought Jack Nicholson as an everyday guy from Nebraska who was seriously depressed about his life. I didn't buy Clooney as a father, or as a a husband struggling to understand what went wrong in his marriage. His performance felt forced, in the way he walked, talked, and other mannerisms, clearly placed by the director, but not believable coming from Clooney. It actually was distracting from the plot. I agree with other reviewers about not caring about the characters (with the exception of the daughters). And this is what separates Nicholson's character in About Schmidt from Clooney's. Despite Schmidt being completely oblivious, ignorant, and probably a poor father and husband, by the end of the movie you genuinely care for him. I felt none of that in this movie. Expand
  7. Apr 12, 2012
    4
    I watched it because of the high criticisms it received, but during the last hour or so, I really kept my finger from switching off the DVD player. What was the meaning of all this ?? And why all the fuss ? Classic scenario and nice scenery in Hawaii was all. Really mediocre movie.
  8. Sep 11, 2013
    5
    It`s a relaxing movie, but gets kind of dull and slow at time.If you just want to watch a movie while you eat, or drink something The Descendants will do just fine, but it`s not a movie that will blow you away, and keep you`re attention.
  9. Jan 29, 2012
    4
    there is nothing, even superficially, original about this film. I don't understand how could anyone call this the best of the year. we see bunch of movies like this every year. it's good, people should definitely see it,it's not a terrible waste of time or money, but it is nothing special really.
  10. Feb 11, 2012
    5
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. A "could have been" movie which failed miserably to redeem Clooney from his glory-seeking excesses. Clooeny's ego is way too big and jarring for this non-role in a non-story. He still has a long way to go to reach the class of actor-turned-director Clint Eastwood, who has enough true inner maturity and confidence to let fellow actors AND actresses shine through. Clooney the over-aged Little Prince doesn't understand fatherly responsibility, nor what being a truly loving husband means. He confuses self-pity with signs of empathy. Being a pushed-around and self-indulgent even as one's life partner is about to die is just..a bore. The lead character is just a prolong case of poor me why is this happening to me - about having to face his much-neglected family females, being "bullied" by his daughter and her seemingly vacant bf (yet seeking his opinion on managing his daughter from the teen idiot). Failure to assert entry-level parental authority at foul-mouthed teen children at a time when the family unit need it the most, is not adorable, nor does it score sympathy points. Scr3wing harmless relatives business agreement last minute self-righteously because one suddenly needs to feel some moral superiority about some grant notion is just super lame and NON-heroic. There are other ways to show that one's suddenly a true noble, like saying nice sweet gentle romantic spiritual things to wife in coma for a change, instead of meddling in other people's family affair and attracting a angry jilted wife into the ward and create drama before the near-dead wife. If he's a real man he should not allow the busybody daughter to drag him into a face-off with the non-consequential ex-lover of his neglected wife. The fact that Clooney's character was forced to grow from a psychological age of 15 to 18 because his wife has "abandoned" poor little self-involved him and leaving him with two difficult daughters and a huge fortune, or that he acts sort-of selfless trying to get wife's ex-fling to see her at her dead bed, doesn't make him a very interesting nor likeable person, nor does it make it a worthy story. He is a petty little prince who spent more screen time spitting venom at his departing wife and her harmless best friend, than being nice to the wife, a caricature of a role who could not talk back at him or defend herself. From start to end, it is about how HE feels, and not about HER. This is a man who is deeply interested in himself, which was supposedly the story problem, even as he pretends to care about something greater than himself as the story progresses. At the end, it remained all about him, how tough it is to do basic father/hubby thing, and his petty little ego injury. Clooney's shallow performance of self-pity as "feelings" demanded so much screen time, even the potentially interesting Electra archetype daughter character failed to emote beyond 1-D sullen self-involved teen princess to a real 3D human female. Still, her good looks plus at least five bikini changes, and lush beautiful Hawaii island scenes somewhat redeemed the boring subject of Clooney non-character and non-emotional journey. Expand
  11. Dec 12, 2011
    5
    I didn't get it. It was a good story about a family in transition. The girls who played the daughters were pretty amazing. In the end though I just was not into the characters. It will probably win a lot of awards. It will again leave me shaking my head.
  12. Nov 26, 2011
    5
    The Descendants manages to take a potentially compelling story and drain it of much interest. The cuckolded husband comes across as merely clueless and his daughters as foul-mouthed brats. As for the storyline about the inheritance, it seems tacked on. This is a confused movie that could have been so much better had the writers been more skilled. It wasn't helped by Clooney's overactedThe Descendants manages to take a potentially compelling story and drain it of much interest. The cuckolded husband comes across as merely clueless and his daughters as foul-mouthed brats. As for the storyline about the inheritance, it seems tacked on. This is a confused movie that could have been so much better had the writers been more skilled. It wasn't helped by Clooney's overacted comic moments. Expand
  13. Jan 29, 2012
    5
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Did you see "Up in the Air?" Probably, so don't waste your time with "The Descendants." Clooney plays more or less the same person: a middle-aged man, who recently prioritized his love life in an attempt to make amends for past mistakes, only to find the one he loves is cheating. Clooney embarks on a search for understanding and forgiveness, which eventually brings him closer to his estranged family. La-de-da. This film, though not entirely bad, is up for Best Picture only because of the weak field this year. "The Descendants" would have had trouble keeping its head above water in last year's Oscars field. Expand
  14. Feb 11, 2012
    4
    THE DESCENDANTS: DISGRACEFUL

    GIVE IT A TRY IF... You really canâ
  15. Dec 11, 2011
    5
    It has high scores because it is more an art film than hollywood film. Those art films all have high scores because they appeal to a small independent segment. This film will find such an audience. It is enjoyable but long at times, but didn't feel long in the end.
  16. Feb 20, 2012
    6
    The descendants is an ultra polished and extremely well acted film by George Clooney. However it is also very lacking. The film did not involve it's audience or build a sense of pathos for Clooneys character. In a film like the descendants the viewer must be enaged by the dillema the main characters are feeling otherwise the supposed tear jerking moments feel fake and cued. This is theThe descendants is an ultra polished and extremely well acted film by George Clooney. However it is also very lacking. The film did not involve it's audience or build a sense of pathos for Clooneys character. In a film like the descendants the viewer must be enaged by the dillema the main characters are feeling otherwise the supposed tear jerking moments feel fake and cued. This is the descendants only problem but it is enough to stop it from being a good or very good movie. Expand
  17. BKM
    Jan 28, 2012
    6
    George Clooney's ongoing quest to earn an Academy Award for best actor finds him playing the lead role in Alexander Payne's low key dramedy about a man dealing with his wife's infidelity after a boating accident places her in a coma. Clooney is fine in the role, but "fine" is not enough to elelvate this well made, yet somewhat dull, film to awards level status or to rank it among Payne'sGeorge Clooney's ongoing quest to earn an Academy Award for best actor finds him playing the lead role in Alexander Payne's low key dramedy about a man dealing with his wife's infidelity after a boating accident places her in a coma. Clooney is fine in the role, but "fine" is not enough to elelvate this well made, yet somewhat dull, film to awards level status or to rank it among Payne's best work. Clooney just doesn't deep dig enough to leave a mark in a film that needs that very quality. Expand
  18. Nov 17, 2012
    5
    The Descendants is a well acted movie centered around grief and loss with some standout performances (Clooney & his daughters). However, there's no escaping the feeling of manipulation when watching this film. It deals with subjects that are universally upsetting but the movie often feels like it's merely checking off a list entitled: 'Things to make people cry'. Also some parts of theThe Descendants is a well acted movie centered around grief and loss with some standout performances (Clooney & his daughters). However, there's no escaping the feeling of manipulation when watching this film. It deals with subjects that are universally upsetting but the movie often feels like it's merely checking off a list entitled: 'Things to make people cry'. Also some parts of the movie (most notably Skeet Ulrich and his wife) just feel wrong and fall flat. The Descendants is worth watching but it's no Sideways or Up in the Air. Expand
  19. Nov 28, 2012
    6
    Not nearly as good as his previous works; The Descendants is Alexander Payne
  20. Jan 1, 2012
    5
    I like George Clooney. I really like Matthew Lillard. This movie just isn't much emotionally, spiritually or even artistically.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 andI like George Clooney. I really like Matthew Lillard. This movie just isn't much emotionally, spiritually or even artistically.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. Expand
  21. Jan 26, 2012
    6
    The Descendants is a good movie, which is to say it is neither groundbreaking nor earth-shattering. Clooney is great as usual, and the performance of his eldest daughter is also fantastic. It is nominated for best picture this year, and although it is good I don't believe that it should win. Rent it on dvd and watch it with someone who enjoys movies. Not for a casual viewer of film.
  22. Mar 26, 2012
    5
    The beautiful setting of Hawaii could not save this film. It was boring and quite ordinary. it was nothing impressive and was certainly not emotionally stirring. The acting was above par, but the characters were flat as well as the script.
  23. Aug 18, 2012
    5
    Alexander Payne makes somewhat formulaic movies wherein disfunctional family members need to find each other again during times of emotional distress. It's well made but seems to last a lot longer then it needs to and it's not Oscar material but it did win one anyways...
  24. Oct 1, 2012
    5
    This is just another example of a "work of art" garnering high favoritism by professional critics. I should have said so-called professional critics. The story, as I read in another review, was predictable. The plot points were not at all complex, and somewhat boring. I'm not going to say it was a horrible movie, but it sure wasn't the most fascinating movie I've seen by any stretch of theThis is just another example of a "work of art" garnering high favoritism by professional critics. I should have said so-called professional critics. The story, as I read in another review, was predictable. The plot points were not at all complex, and somewhat boring. I'm not going to say it was a horrible movie, but it sure wasn't the most fascinating movie I've seen by any stretch of the imagination. Sad to say, it seems like Payne's days of creating high art, such as the movie Sideways, are over. I think it's also important to note that the acting was very mechanical, and not natural. For me personally, it was not an addictive movie, unlike his 2004 film. The Hawaiian setting could have allowed for either an extremely interesting, or really bad movie. It seemed like Payne was trying really hard to keep it from veering off into really bad. The other thing that makes me argue against it being a great movie is that I didn't learn anything from it. I think the only thing I learned is that the children of bad parents, say bad words and do stupid things. The Descendants was a smug, and pretentious film that did not have much artistic merit. Trust your instincts and say no to this movie. Not worth it. Watch a Coen brothers film. Expand
  25. Dec 20, 2012
    5
    I have no idea why this was nominated for an Oscar. Having lost my dad to cancer, I thought it would be a good movie. I am 16 and I love great movies. (check out my ratings) But...what the hell? It's not an awful movie, and it is supposed to be serious. A serious piece meant to open the eyes, but all I wanted to do was sleep during the entire movie. Just, what the hell, Academy?
  26. Nov 25, 2013
    6
    An ok movie. Not great, not awful and certainly not up to any expectations one might have had. Acting is fine, story is a bit odd. The dead mother/wife was not portrayed as a loving positive person really, which was unusual, so it was hard to be that sympathetic. Clooney was good being Clooney. The daughter was a positive note. I'm only reviewing this because I stumbled on it here.An ok movie. Not great, not awful and certainly not up to any expectations one might have had. Acting is fine, story is a bit odd. The dead mother/wife was not portrayed as a loving positive person really, which was unusual, so it was hard to be that sympathetic. Clooney was good being Clooney. The daughter was a positive note. I'm only reviewing this because I stumbled on it here. Not something you'd watch over and over. Expand
  27. Aug 3, 2013
    4
    Stupid piece of crap. Don't waste your time watching this movie, it's sooooooooooooooooo boring (at least the second half of it). You will be watching your watch for the last hour
  28. Apr 26, 2013
    6
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. So, apparently, even jerks feel pain. And silly me, I thought they only knew how to inflict it. And of course the jerks learn to forgive and harmony is restored, fade out. It all seem way too pat and by-the-book, i.e., formulaic, to me. But hey, the Academy thinks the screenplay was just boffo. Go figure. Expand
  29. Jul 5, 2013
    5
    There is a definite Sideways feel about this film, unfortunately it never reaches that level. Maybe a fault in the script, but I couldn't relate (or understand) the actions of most of the characters in the film. The acting didn't help either it was flat. A scene towards the end of the film, where Clooney's character Matt King) talks to his wife complete with close up and tears failedThere is a definite Sideways feel about this film, unfortunately it never reaches that level. Maybe a fault in the script, but I couldn't relate (or understand) the actions of most of the characters in the film. The acting didn't help either it was flat. A scene towards the end of the film, where Clooney's character Matt King) talks to his wife complete with close up and tears failed to stir any emotions. This to me summed up the whole film, with the exception of Scottie (Amara Miller) the only character in the film that made me give a damn. Overall, a film I'll probably forget sooner rather than later.... Expand
  30. Feb 5, 2015
    6
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Cranky Old Cuckold

    Wow! Is this movie ever overrated! More so even than "Sideways". Let's see, a dying wife in a coma and a guilt-ridden mostly-absent husband isn't all that emotionally arresting until we find out she was a cheat. OMG, she had an affair! Another man! Alert the Pope, now we've got a story to tell! A tragic, fatal boating accident is one thing, but adultery is what really motivates the husband and his side-kick daughter to play detectives and find out who the wife was cheating with. That's the real story. That's what we really need to know. Pull the plug on the wench for all we care now. Uncovering the secret affair is all that matters. And of course the culprit she was having ungodly sex with was just using her so he could score some real-estate commission. So, in the end, not only does the wholesome, upstanding husband confront the loathsome adulterer, and develop into a perfect parent, but he also ends up saving pristine property in Hawaii from being exploited. What a guy! How does this self-righteous crap get a perfect score from so many critics. I'll give it a 6, max, and only for it's steady pacing and a solid performance from Shailene Woodley.
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  31. Jul 15, 2015
    5
    The Descendants was a huge disappointment. After hearing of all it's critical acclaim-specifically George Clooney's Oscar nomination, my expectations were set fairly high. I was expecting an eventful and grabbing film but instead I was left bored, uninterested in the characters or the plot and ended up turning the TV off an hour into the movie. The acting was mediocre and the plot wasThe Descendants was a huge disappointment. After hearing of all it's critical acclaim-specifically George Clooney's Oscar nomination, my expectations were set fairly high. I was expecting an eventful and grabbing film but instead I was left bored, uninterested in the characters or the plot and ended up turning the TV off an hour into the movie. The acting was mediocre and the plot was boring as hell for those who could not relate. I did not create a connection with any of the characters and felt like I was getting an inside scoop into the life of a very average man. Sorry Clooney, no charming me in this one. Very disappointed. Expand
Metascore
84

Universal acclaim - based on 43 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 38 out of 43
  2. Negative: 0 out of 43
  1. Reviewed by: Dan Jolin
    Jan 23, 2012
    80
    A marvellous follow-up to 2004's "Sideways" - well worth the wait.
  2. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Nov 23, 2011
    88
    All of Payne's films have been driven by the anger and frustration of his protagonists, but The Descendants is the first one in which sadness lurks behind every frame.
  3. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Nov 23, 2011
    91
    There are ample opportunities for the film to soak in pathos, righteousness, farce, or pictorialism, and Payne manages to nod at those pitfalls without falling into them. In a way, it's just like Matt King's world: enviably plush but filled with the real pain of real life.