User Score
7.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 381 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 19 out of 381

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  1. Nov 27, 2011
    3
    I like George Clooney. I really like Matthew Lillard. This movie just isn't much emotionally, spiritually or even artistically. There are some nuanced moments that work, a bit of Alexander Payne's trademark irony in scenes, sure. But this was a tough 2 hours to sit through. It's a depressing film about people struggling with little or no humanity. It doesn't have a pulse. The photography and production values are dreary and uninspired. George Clooney struggles with the Oscar clips, and comes off like a bloke(a likeable guy, but he really is just an aging good looking dude.) There are no great lines. It's actually super misogynistic about the youngest daughter, the 20 something daughter, the realtor's wife and the wife in the coma. Expand
  2. Jan 28, 2012
    8
    All performances in this movie were amazing, and the movie itself captures life with an uncommon grace. Funny, depressing, and moving, The Descendants is one of the year's best movies.
  3. 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.
  4. Nov 25, 2011
    10
    Excellent casting, setting, plot, pacing, and performances. A movie which really makes you step back and look at yourself as well as the world with a different perspective. Clooney's performance is superb; the characters can be easily related to, as well as their troubles, and their constant struggle to do the right thing. Typically my reviews for movies are quite loquacious, but with such a well-made movie as The Descendants, I've found myself nearly speechless, there's really not much more one can say other than "wow!" Expand
  5. Dec 26, 2011
    3
    What movie did all these other people see that they liked? There is little about this film that is enjoyable. Some good acting performances is all I could muster to say positive about this. None of the characters are either believable or likeable. And why did they have to put the "F" word into the mouths of 7 year olds just to make this an "R" rated film. WEAK
  6. Feb 13, 2012
    8
    Alexander Payne's "The Descendants" is.....exquisite, if you would describe it. George Clooney gives it's best as the helpless father with 2 rebellious girls, having his near-dead wife in the hospital and being pressured by his greedy family about signing a land contract that will make **** go real. The story is very smart. It gets funny sometimes but melodramatic otherwise. I recommend it to the smart moviegoers. Expand
  7. Feb 4, 2012
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. By no means should North Shore be confused for an accurate depiction of life in Hawaii. The 1987 film about an Arizonian surfing champ who nearly wins the Pipeline Masters, however, is honest enough to depict the racial strife that sometimes exist between the mainlanders and the locals. Rick Kane, oblivious to the tricky dynamics that govern the Hawaiian waters, rebuffs the advice of two seasoned surfers(who in a colonial context, are outsiders) to vamoose, when the "hui" suggests that he may be infringing on their turf. "He's so haole, he doesn't even know he is haole," one wave rider complains. To put it more succinctly, Rick is "haole as s***", to borrow a phrase from Matt King in The Descendants. Chandler, a longtime board-shaper and resident, who despite being white like his protege, knows the island's stormy history, and explains to the political naif that his victimization(a local boy steals his stuff) pales next to what the Hawaiians lost during the transference of land ownership, the meat and potatoes of colonization. North Shore, warts and all, is redeemed by having a conscience that nearly matches the white guilt of The Descendants, in which Matt's diatribe about skin color, also extends to language, admitting how his clan "can't even speak pidgin, let alone Hawaiian." Just before this searing self-critique, the filmmaker shows the land baron alone in a special room that contains old photographs of his ancestors, the people who made this generational inheritance possible, set to soft indigenous music that, depending on who you are, adds to the scene, either a sense of harmony or dissonance, in regard to the tradition of land stewardship. When Matt ends his backyard speech to the kinfolk with the assertion that they have "Hawaiian blood", that they are, in so many words, indeed local, The Descendants may still be deemed by some as being a film about the problems of privileged white people, a la Sofia Coppola's Somewhere. Despite the filmmaker's good intentions, is the King family Hawaiian enough to escape such easy ghettoization, the same upscale zip code where The Royal Tennenbaums reside. As the family takes one final look at their property, acres upon acres of verdant green that reaches, in both directions, the rolling mountains and crystal blue seawater, some will bristle a little when Scottie laments that she missed out on the King family tradition of camping with their comatose mother, like elder sister Alex before her, as if it was a tragedy on par with genocide. Although Matt takes great pains toward not instilling a sense of entitlement in his daughters, when he says that "in Hawaii, some of the most powerful people look like bums and stuntmen," don't forget that he's including himself, not just his cousins in the boardroom, or Hugh, the unassuming barfly at that locals only hangout. In spite of himself, good man and all, there's still a whole lot of pride, and perhaps, a little hubris in Matt, as he surveys his kingdom from a cliff where King Kamehameha may have once stood. But to the lawyer's credit, he's upfront about his soft-hearted tyranny, admitting in all honesty that "we didn't do anything to own this land," and yet, it's not as if he would give the soil back to the rightful descendants, the homeless Hawaiians, whose forefathers were overrun by foreign interlopers who used religion as a weapon, soon after washing up on island shores. In George Roy Hill's Hawaii, a flawed, but relatively accurate portrayal of how an indigenous group of people lost the war against progress, it's one of the Hawaiian gods, surprisingly enough, not Jesus Christ, who makes his presence known, following the death of the "alii'nui", by creating a windstorm that all but blows away the Christian church ministered by the unctuous Rev. Hale. More importantly, as it relates to The Descendants, the 1966 film explains how a man like Matt could inherit such obscene wealth, in a scene where a preacher is expulsed from the ministry for marrying a native woman. "My wife has bought me several thousand acres of prime land," he brags. Still, Hawaii is, by no means, historically accurate. The Hawaiians, inexplicably, don't surf. Just like Matt, who hasn't picked up a board in fifteen years, according to the island chain's unlikely spokesman. Unlike the aforementioned films, Soul Surfer, the inspirational true story about Bethany Hamilton, all but whitewashes the precedence of a self-governing island nation by filling the screen with nary a brown face. Not so coincidentally, the film is faith-based. And yet, one of the gods from Hawaiian folklore accidentally makes a subtextual cameo, in which chanting can be heard over the soundtrack during the shark attack, suggestive of Mano, avenging, perhaps, the wholesale death of his people. Whereas Bethany lost an arm, and the King family loses a wife and mother, the Hawaiians, in the end, lost everything. Expand
  8. 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.
  9. Nov 18, 2011
    10
    The Descendants is the movie you see if you've lost faith in the ability of Hollywood to make really good movies with depth, feeling, and mastery of the craft. Payne is amazing, and we all know it. Sideways is one of the all-time greats, and even though this one doesn't quite scale those heights, it's incredibly good. The choice of actors is pitch-perfect - even some of the non-speaking roles (hello Sheriff Truman!) contribute tangibly to the fabric of the film. I won't discuss any particulars of the story so as not to spoil anything, but the Oahu/Kaua'i scenes with the island music are wonderfully rich. The islands are almost characters themselves. See the film. Expand
  10. Nov 28, 2011
    8
    George Clooney stars as the father of two girls (10 & 17), to whom he can't connect. This is thrown into relief because his estranged wife is in a life-ending coma. Although the previews would have you believe this is a dark comedy, it isn't. There's lots of tears and just because people cry a lot does not make it moving. The occasional laughs are provided by a teenage dude friend. Clooney's performance is one of his best and the rest of the cast is equally strong. Writer/director Alexander Payne has crafted a mature interpersonal drama set in the everyday world of Hawaii. While much of it is engaging, some of it is slow and flat. Expand
  11. Nov 23, 2011
    7
    Don't get me wrong, this is a well made movie. The script is good, the characters are well developed, the views of Hawaii are beautiful. However, I think it suffers from pacing problems, in that it's constantly moving at the same speed. There is no tension, there are no dynamics, the characters simply play events out under a blanket of ukelele music.
  12. 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
  13. Apr 13, 2012
    2
    To think this movie got its Academy award for Best Adapted Screenplay, of all things. I would say its script is among the worst of its features, and there is no shortage of bad features "The Descendents" boasts. From the cringeworthy dialogues, to the placid performances of underwritten characters, to the cliched ending, it's a snoozefest of terrible. The voiceover is tacky and disappears mysteriously halfway through, having served its expository goal. There are F words aplenty, none of which coming naturally from its utterers - be it preteens or the always charming but never offensive Clooney. The exchanges are forced and bland. The development of character, if any, feels forced as well - one minute somebody does something portraying him in one light, the next - its opposite, there is no gradualness or shades.

    I felt Clooney gave a good performance given the material he had to work with, and I was happy enough with Shailene Woodley. Somehow they even managed to get the score wrong, even though its Hawaiian music over a movie taking place on beautiful Hawaii.

    All in all, I was utterly disappointed, maybe I got in with the wrong expectations on the back of so much critics' praise (are they being paid by the studio to marvel in such drivel? I can find no other explanation for so many 10/10 scores in the face of such gaping chasms in the bowels of this movie) and award nominations. Don't make the same mistake.
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  14. Feb 17, 2012
    9
    This movie is fantastic! I love it! George Clooney did a good job. He nailed it! The way he talked and his body language was depicted very well. It is a beautiful story of a struggling father! The plot was done very well and so was the location of the story.
  15. Dec 25, 2011
    10
    'The Descendants' is an amazing portrayal of a family whose life is shattered when the mother of the family lies in a coma. It's central themes of fatherhood and grief are dealt with in a sensitive and powerful manner. Very few movies of 2011 can come close to this kind of filmmaking.
  16. Dec 23, 2011
    2
    This movie seemed to be about finding out how many times God's Name could be blasphemed and how much cussing and swearing could be vomited from the mouth of children, NONE of which was of any use to the already boring movie. If you like to be depressed and love to hear vulgar language, then this movie is for you.
  17. Nov 26, 2011
    8
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. I'm wondering if George is capable of choosing a bad script after the Batman & Robin fiasco. It certainly doesn't appear so after enjoying The Descendants. While slow in parts, the script and acting were emotionally intense, even by the two perfectly-cast children. This powerful story of a man in mid-life having to come to grips with the unexpected, impending loss of his wife, the damage done to his daughters' upbringing and having to find a way to do the right thing after also discovering his wife had been cheating on him prior to her accident. While George isn't the most versatile actor, this is the most human I've ever seen him. He captured the pain, struggle, sadness and anger in his character so well that the final scene with his wife is so real, it can't help but bring on tears. P Expand
  18. Mar 15, 2012
    3
    Awful. I had to turn this movie off after 39 minutes. No movie can redeem itself after that much crap.The performances were extremely inauthentic - I couldn't stop cringing at how much it felt like an amateur play. The "actor" who played the daughter's friend can count his performance as one of the worst in recent memory. I wouldn't be surprised if he was plucked off the street and told to act stoned. Oscar nominated?....That confirms what I already knew. I'm totally baffled that so many critics and users enjoyed this abominable turd. Expand
  19. Nov 26, 2011
    8
    Although I didn't enjoy this movie as much as Sideways, it is still an enjoyable slice of life. The pace is slow and a little too even-keeled, but the acting is good throughout. I also thought it was just a little too predictable. I was a little disappointed by all the cussing throughout the film and I'm not a prude. I just thought it was unnecessary. The scenery was beautiful, of course, as it is set and filmed in Hawaii, and the Hawaiian soundtrack almost lulls you to sleep at times. Overall I enjoyed it but I don't think it's the best movie I've seen this year. Expand
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. Dec 29, 2011
    4
    There is something going on in Alexander Payneâ
  23. 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
    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. Expand
  24. 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 overacted comic moments. Expand
  25. Feb 3, 2012
    9
    The Descendants is an emotionally resonant story that just happens to be consistently funny, touching, beautifully filmed along with the beautiful performances from Judy Greer, Shailene Woodley and George Clooney. And when all that is put together you have a beautiful picture of what a normal, real family is. I give this movie 93%.
  26. May 10, 2012
    2
    None of the characters touched me one bit. All unbelievable Mr Clooney plays his usual unemotional, twitching, sad sack (there have been notable exceptions-he was great in "Oh Brother..."). The kids were okay but what is the deal with every other word out of the young one's mouth is **** Is that supposed to be funny, when children swear, and dad gives an exasperated look? Maybe they wanted an R rating to pique some interest. What is the purpose of the boy friend? His character is inane. Perhaps the grieving daughter could get support from him; no way with this guy; every fathers nightmare that your daughter brings a guy like this home. And where was his family? He spent every minute with the Clooney clan. Mr Forster is good as usual. Once again the wrong person is blamed for the affair; in this case the man. The wife is absolved of all responsibility because she is dying, when she wanted to have the affair and cheated on her husband; but f course he feels guilty. Mr Clooney's Matt finally has time for his wife and falls in love with her in the coma, even though she lied and cheated on on him. We "see" no background just an occasional reference to his being too busy. Drama? Comedy? I could not have cared any less about the ridiculous back story (someone please help Mr Bridges to find meaningful work). You go to the trouble to make a movie in Hawaii and almost no one talks, looks, or feels Hawaiian ( except the beautiful scenery). Uninteresting people, uninteresting story, no emotion, no one to root for. It's a mess. Amazing how so many critics loved this film. Mr Clooney certainly has a stranglehold on Hollywood. Expand
  27. 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 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
  28. Dec 28, 2011
    2
    After an hour, the movie hinted that it might get interesting. It did not. I can not understand how anyone could enjoy this movie. The scenery was good and the music was tolerable, so I'll give it a 2/10.
  29. 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 to have an identity. Nothing is unique or special about the movie. It left me with no feeling at all - numb and bored. Expand
  30. 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. 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
  31. Feb 27, 2012
    7
    The Descendants is a very touching movie, because the level of reality of the situation that is living the King family is huge. A man whose job absorbs all his life is punch in the face by the accident of his wife, so he must take care of her two daughters, the older one has difficulty relating to her family and is immersed in drugs and alcohol; and the little one is following a bad life example. In the other hand the protagonist is in charge of a big piece of Hawaiian land, and has to deal with his cousins if they sell it or not.
    The character of Matt King is very interesting, because we see a man that thinks that has all what he wants in life, but the accident is the warning alert that returns him to earth. In that moment Matt discovers that he has nothing, so in order to recover what he had or believes that had; the protagonist must rediscover himself, but he must take with him, her two daughters. This process contains forgiveness and vengeance, truth and lies, and happiness and anger.
    The Descendants is a little bit slow and in some point it stagnates, but the charming performance of George Clooney, the delightful screenplay (won an Oscar) and the amazing direction of Alexander Payne, takes this film to the top. Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.
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  32. 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
  33. Jan 28, 2012
    3
    Renter. I nearly left the theater and in hindsight, wish I had. The pace of this movie is extremely slow. Unfortunately the slow pace does not include significant character development or storytelling. Certainly enjoyed the beautiful Hawaii scenery and Clooney has a great narrator's voice but this project would have been much better suited to a made-for-tv splash vs big screen.
  34. Feb 5, 2012
    3
    This movie was nominated for best picture? Oh for the days of Spencer Tracy and James Stewart. The movie did not have one breakout scene. I did not laugh. I did not cry. Clooney nominated for "best actor"?His emotional range goes all the way from A to B. There was nothing in the movie that made it stand out, unless you count all the vulgarities from the 10 and 16 year old!! Hollywood is in trouble. They are trying to manufacture stars and hype great movies. Didn't work here! At least it only cost us $5.00 Expand
  35. Feb 11, 2012
    4
    THE DESCENDANTS: DISGRACEFUL

    GIVE IT A TRY IF... You really canâ
  36. 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.
  37. 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.
  38. Nov 29, 2011
    10
    "The Descendants" stars George Clooney and a number of perfectly cast actors in this beautiful, sad and honest story based on the novel written by Kaui Hart Hemmings. Masterfully directed by Alexander Payne, the writing, directing and editing of the film create a wonderful viewing experience that takes the viewer to the heart of a family's grief while allowing him or her to understand and share the frailties and positives of the human condition. A large part of this movie's success is due to the fine acting performance of Mr. Clooney.This is a portrayal that we will hear more about during the nominating process for Best Actor in 2012 and well deserved it will be. Mention must also be made of the superb acting done by a relative newcomer, Ms. Shailene Woodley, who, as Mr. Clooney's character's older daughtr, displays a grace and dignity not often found in her peers. She is a star in the making. I give this film an 8.5 for at no time was I ever conscious of its length but, instead, only of its power and beauty. Expand
  39. 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's best work. Clooney just doesn't deep dig enough to leave a mark in a film that needs that very quality. Expand
  40. Nov 27, 2011
    8
    No question the acting is tremendous as you feel as if you are looking in on a real family drama. If you like dialogue without any action then this movie is your cup of tea. The negative is you know where it is going five minutes into the film as there are no real surprises. It is a one pace film but the cast is tremendous. And the scenery breathtaking.
  41. Jul 5, 2012
    9
    When watching an original wildly entertaining smart film like the Descendants one wonders why more films can't feel like this. Alexander Payne really does it again, in both writing and directing, and hits just the right note all the way through, in of a story about a man played by George Clooney who deals with the conflicting emotions that his wife is in a comma and has also been unfaithful to him and his relationship with his rebellious daughters. There's not a single performance that doesn't work, and the film though perhaps less of an outright comedy than some of Payne's previous films has it's share of funny moments. Easily one of the five best movies of Clooney's career, possibly top three, and my second favorite Alexander Payne film behind Sideways. Expand
  42. Lyn
    Feb 5, 2012
    8
    Everyone loves Clooney. And when I think of his other performances -- even in less-appreciated films like "Solaris" and "The American" -- I am not sure why this one got him an Oscar nomination. However, this film as a whole is moving and interesting. The characters, even the kids, have layers that are revealed gradually. It lacks the off-the-wall hilarity of "Sideways," but does provide chuckles along with some tears. Expand
  43. May 27, 2012
    10
    i really,really liked this movie. great acting all around, everyone plays their character perfectly even the supporting cast. interesting story, although i didn't read the book so i don;t know how great the adaptation is. and excellent pacing and direction. just a really well made film. really recommend it.
  44. Mar 10, 2012
    7
    Driven by particularly strong critic reviews, nominations and awards for the lead actor George Clooney and a director Alexander Payne (of Greek origin) who brought us "About Schmidt" and "Sideways", I perhaps expected more. What made it short of great for me was probably the excessively long voiceover in the start of the movie or how the irony, comedy and drama (all words derived from Greek that the director should better understand) were contradicting rather than complimenting one another at times, making The Descendants feel more like a soap opera with Hawaiian shirts. Expand
  45. Dec 9, 2011
    7
    Although I gave this film a 7, I would have given it a 7.5 just to show that I preferred it to "Moneyball". The NY Film critics gave their Best Actor award to Brad Pitt for "Moneyball"and "Tree of Life". Pitt is a good actor but I enjoyed "The Ides of March" and "The Descendants"much more. In fact, I thought it was Clooney who showed greater range in his two films than Pitt. None of the four are great movies but the "Descendants" was enjoyable. The subject matter did not really grab me but that's ok. I was expecting more but it is a better than average film although you know what decision he will make about the land. Probably an Oscar nomination but hopefully not for Best Film. Expand
  46. Dec 23, 2012
    9
    I found this a very touching and quite emotional film which brought echoes of events in my past to the surface (I won
  47. Feb 6, 2012
    8
    The Descendants is a very good movie, even if its not a "best picture" type of movie in my opinion. I generally think Clooney acts the same in almost every movie he is in (and people think im crazy when I say that), but his character lacks the smooth and "im too cool for this" attitude he usually plays. The story is solid and provides some emotional moments and some funny moments as well. While I think 50/50 offers more emotion and more laughs, I highly recommend The Descendants. You wont be disappointed. Expand
  48. Dec 2, 2011
    7
    One it gets past the extended voice-over at the start of the film that sets up the situation, the movie really starts to impress. Clooney's performance was right on, and Shaiene Woodley playing the daughter of Clooney's character is outstanding. I hope she gets a Best Supporting Actress nomination. There were also good performances in minor roles from Robert Forster and Beau Bridges.
    Note:
    I thought from the trailer that this movie was a comedy. Although parts of it are funny, it is definitely NOT a comedy. Expand
  49. 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 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. Collapse
  50. Feb 29, 2012
    8
    First of all, I have to warn you, thiz movie is not for everyone. I imagine if you are forty-something people or someone who recently has relaxing mood, thiz movie could be a surprising one. Me myself, incidentally was in the second category. I went to watch thiz movie with nothing to expect. But you know what? Thiz movie came to slap on my face. Big time! Wowâ
  51. Jan 14, 2012
    8
    I love a movie that has a different premise than the average film. And when you add Geotprge Clooney I like it even more. He makes interesting films and surrounds himself with fascinating ensembles of talent.
  52. Mar 27, 2012
    7
    Overall this is a decent piece of work but it seemed to be missing something and that something to me was an electric performance in the lead character the husband. George Clooney underplays the husband to the point of which you begin to wonder if he's at all connected to the screenplay. The standout in this piece is Shailene Woodley. Other than that the piece is really rather mediocre. The dialogue isn't anything exciting, the cinematography is rather bland and the cast is rather unattached to one another. Perhaps that exactly what Alexander Payne was attempting to convey. If it was he did it quite well but left me sitting there at the end going "hmmmmmm not bad....". Expand
  53. Nov 27, 2011
    10
    A lot will be made of what genre "The Descendants" most properly fits into. And THAT is the highest praise that I can give this tremendous and moving film.
  54. May 26, 2012
    8
    George Clooney is great in this one, I really believed him with his character. The Hawaiian-inspired story was excellent and its development makes the story more interesting. The other actors are also great and they had different emotions throughout the film. Not the best of all time but definitely one of the year's best...................
  55. Feb 3, 2012
    9
    Alexander Payne is an expert at exploring rather dark subject matter in a relatively light-hearted way. We saw him do this in his last feature Sideways, and he carries on the tradition in The Descendants. The film discusses life, death, love and relationships, all pretty hefty subjects, through a combination of honest drama and comedy. The cast are superb across the board, with George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Judy Greer, Beau Bridges, Nick Krause and Robert Forster all giving sterling performances. Despite the universal acclaim Clooney's performance as Matt King has received (though quite rightly so), the real star of the film is the brilliant newcomer Amara Miller, playing Matt's wild younger daughter Scottie. The film is well-written, beautifully filmed, very funny and has a fine summer collection of Hawaiian shirts on show. It's the contrast between humour and serious drama that makes the film work in the end - there's some great physical comedy from Clooney, and some funny moments in the dialogue throughout, but also many rather tender, emotional and dramatic scenes (my favourite scene from the entire film is right at the end, with Matt and his two daughters snuggled up on the couch under a blanket and eating ice cream). The Descendants is really the story of a fairly privileged man who's trying to get through a really bad year in his life, and needs to himself (and his family) back on track. It's also a road movie - though Matt King's individual experiences are important moments for him and the audience, it is his difficult journey back to a relative normality in his life that really rewards the viewer. It's a refreshingly honest family drama, and despite having a pretty dark heart, the overall viewing experience is a cheerful and fulfilling one. We meet and spend time with believable people, characters who we can truly empathise with, and that is what makes the Descendants truly stand out from the crowd. Expand
  56. 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 the descendants only problem but it is enough to stop it from being a good or very good movie. Expand
  57. Nov 28, 2012
    6
    Not nearly as good as his previous works; The Descendants is Alexander Payne
  58. JMc
    Jan 16, 2012
    10
    This a wonderfully entertaining film and also deeply touching. I laughed, I cried, I left the cinema with bleary eyes. I would like to know the people in this film. I would also now like to go on a holiday in Hawaii.
  59. Jan 29, 2012
    9
    I thoroughly enjoyed this drama. At first, the tone of the movie is a little disconcerting - should I laugh or not? But with a little help from the director with one or two moments of obvious farce (Clooney struggling to run in flip flops) it becomes clear it is both a gentle and subtle comedy, with touches of wit and tenderness. The supporting cast is excellent, and the Hawaiian locations are simultaneously pedestrian and beautiful: this is where ordinary people lead largely ordinary lives. Almost every scene presents Clooney with a mini dilemma, and there is no certainty which choices he will make. One of the best movies I've seen in a long while. Expand
  60. j30
    Mar 20, 2012
    8
    The Descendants starring George Clooney is quite an emotional journey through a family's hardship. I found the movie realistic and darkly comedic in some areas. The emotional scenes don't give off a melodramatic feel. I definitely recommend it.
  61. Nov 28, 2011
    10
    A naturally hilarious movie with not one false step. One of the most emotionally satisfying movies I've ever seen with two Oscar-worthy performances from George Clooney and Shailene Woodley. Grade: A+
  62. Apr 16, 2012
    9
    No one has any redeeming qualities in this movie. That usually doesn't bother me, but these people are jerks! They all got me really angry. But the believable family dysfunction is what makes this movie so good. Despite disliking everyone, I thought the movie was real good. That one of my problem with last year's Best Picture Nominee, 'The Kids are Alright.' Everyone in that movie was too likable, so the dysfunction wasn't believable. This year, many people were rooting for The Help, which is really good, but I just think Descendants was better. An underdog story like The Help is easy to root for.

    To pull of a believable dysfunctional family is more difficult. In the Descendants you eventually do make an emotional investment and gain compassion despite the unlikable characters. This is one of the things 'Precious' had going for it a few years ago.

    I know 'The Artist' won, but I think the Descendants was the best picture of all the nominees.
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  63. Feb 25, 2012
    9
    The Descendants an amazing Sad-Comedy drama. Alexander Payne did an amazing job writing(S.play) & Directing this masterpiece . George Clooney was great as he (Most of the time) is . His acting was undoubtedly an Oscar acting . He was amazing all the way through . Shailene Woodley was sexy , charming and ******* awesome , (She) did better then I thought she would . Kaui Hart Hemmings's story was really really good . The way Kaui showed A Family going through the toughest time and they find themselves bottom of everything and managing through all that was pretty awesome .Really like how Payne directed the film with capturing all those Hawaiian scenes was so cool ,It was kinda woody alan's Midnight In Paris style (Which i liked so much) . The Descendants will make u sad but suddenly u will find urself laughing . Expand
  64. Jan 28, 2012
    7
    Coming in with impossible to meet expectations after the brilliant Sideways, I must say I was quite satisfied with this movie. The actors, the setting, the story were excellent. It didn't lack Alexander Payne's edge, however it did miss it's humor, most of the jokes fall flat but the story stays compelling and interesting to deserve a viewing.
  65. Jan 11, 2012
    8
    terrific film. i loved the screenwriting in the film and how each character isn't merely stereotyped, but they each have a persona and reason for being in the film, which elevates the narrative. i think the film is about a father attempting to find his conscience without voluntarily seeking it, so the films sorta drags you along his path. it was well-made and i adore the hawaiian aura of the film.
  66. Jan 19, 2012
    10
    The Descendants is one of those films that is a delight from beginning to end. It flits from happy to sad in the blink of an eye and from lung bustingly hilarious to serious in another. It's a film that is juggling so many themes and stories it would be easy for something to get lost in the shuffle but it never does. It is just a brilliant film from beginning to end.
    It follows the story
    of Matt King (George Clooney) and his daughters Alexandra and Scottie (Shailene Woodley & Amara Miller) who are thrown a curveball when their mother and Matt's wife hits her head in a boating accident and they discover she is never going to wake up. At the same time Matt is also dealing with the news that she was cheating on him as well as the sale of a huge chunk of Hawaiian land despite the fact he is having reservations. Not only is the story incredibly complex but the emotions are too with the characters being remarkably complicated with the character of Alexandra both missing the mother she lost while at the same time hating her for the last time they spoke. The conflicts and decisions made in this film feel real because they are handled so delicately by director Alexander Payne. The decision of when and how to tell Scottie about what is happening or how Matt reacts to the news his wife was unfaithful play out in unexpected yet understandable ways with the latter being both tragic while at the same time undeniably funny. Its a fine line that Payne has always been able to walk, much like in Sideways. His ability to make even the most depressing of news hilarious just by the way he works the camera or dresses the character. The Descendants may not be a comedy but believe me, it is hysterical in places. The supporting cast is perfectly cast with a few surprises. For instance comic actress Judy Greer plays the wife of Matt's wife's lover and is fantastic playing against type especially at the end of the film. Matthew Lillard is equally impressive as he proves he can be more than the stoner best friend or the crazy killer. However the film belongs to Clooney and Woodley who are just fantastic as a man trying to accept his responsibilities as everything falls down around him and the new matriarch, trying to protect her sister the way her mother would have. They both give captivating performances and the scenes they share are the best in the film. The film is long but never longer than it needs to be with every scene serving a purpose with most scenes having some emotion hidden beneath the surface. Even the landscapes and establishing shots give meaning to the film with the islands that make up Hawaii serving as a secondary character. The film is as much about heritage as it is about grief or betrayal. The Descendants is a story that has so many great moments and plot points that its easy to forget the point of it. Luckily Payne reminds us in a final shot that is both uplifting and sombre. It's his best film yet and easily one of the best of 2011. Expand
  67. Nov 28, 2011
    8
    Alexander Payne where have you been all this time? You have been sorely missed. The director of Election, About Schmidt, and Sideways hasnâ
  68. Dec 26, 2011
    8
    The Descendants has some problems but not nearly enough to make it even slightly avoidable. The issues are with it being slightly cliche and at times predictable. What it has going for it is a few wonderful performances and an understated sweetness about how life - even at its most beautiful is complicated.

    George Clooney is terrific. Isn't he always, though? We have grown to expect
    great performances from him. He makes good choices in the films he does (with only a couple exceptions) and is even better when surrounded by a worthy cast. His supporting cast in The Descendants is quietly excellent, especially Shailene Woodley as Clooney's oldest daughter, Alex.

    What makes this film for me is the unspoken points it makes as well as the grace with which Matt King (Clooney) handles his incredibly sticky problems. His lessons seem to come in the reality he allows those close to him to create in order to cope.

    The Descendants is very good and quite enjoyable. It's pretty well written and wonderfully acted. More than anything it will be remembered for being sweet.
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  69. Nov 20, 2011
    9
    Like he's done in his previous movies, Alexander Payne takes a man at a crossroads and makes his predicament feel vital, relatable and real. "The Descendants" is better than "Sideways" because its protagonist lives in our world (though, granted, he's about to cash in on $100 million or so), and because it treats its characters not as oddities, but as genuine people trying to deal with the problems of life that, for them, at least, have no precedent. Wonderfully involving, splendidly acted. Expand
  70. Nov 20, 2011
    9
    Best movie of the year so far. What really gets me is how the movie's scenes are at once cerebral, relaxed--just like the setting, Hawaii--but also powerful. A few scenes could have been a bit less corny, but I'm nit-picking.
  71. Dec 2, 2011
    9
    Payne, Clooney and Papamichael are all at the top of their game in this taut, emotional film with a storyline that delivers pleasant surprises from beginning to end. Shailene Woodley is terrific as the eldest daughter, delivering a performance that feels so real and not "actoryly". Nick Krause is a quirky and love-able addition to the King family. A joy to watch!
  72. Jan 22, 2012
    10
    Clooney gives a great performance, and it made me want to go to Hawaii. I wish the characters were more likeable, though. http://luhathoughts.blogspot.com/2012/01/moments-of-bittersweet-alohas.html
  73. Dec 11, 2011
    9
    The Descendants opens with George Clooney's narration detailing the non-paradise like aspect of Hawaii and from that moment on, the film becomes a touching and moving tale about family, betrayal, and death, absent of the traditional Hollywood cliches. Alexander Payne directs with brilliance as George Clooney brings the protagonist to life with all of his anger, sadness, and melancholy. Three plots emerge and by the end come together to create a film that rings with emotion and touches the heart. Expand
  74. Jan 16, 2012
    7
    A passable Payne film that reiterates his themes of white men at crossroads and crisis. Often people complain about Payne's caricature side-characters, usually reminiscent of Duane Hanson's hyper-real sculptures of middle Americans. Here it's a bit toned-down, save for the daughter's classmate's mother in the beginning. George Clooney is adequate, as usual, but the energy really belongs to the actresses who play the two daughters: convincing and subtle, which is the direction Payne's going toward lately. His cynicism will be missed, though. Expand
  75. Dec 17, 2011
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Hard to fathom the slew of 100 marks by professional reviewers for this film. All actors great. Story with undeveloped potential, bland instead of brilliant. We were dropped into this melodrama and given insufficient reasons to care about outcome but it's worse than that: we knew outcome of the land decision and the comatose wife, all telegraphed well in advance. When Matt leans over his wife to say goodbye to his best friend, his pain etc, it's a beautiful speech and absolutely without foundation in what we've been let in on for backstory. How hard would it be to show us some of this love in flashbacks. Same for her relationship with her daughters. Who were these people, really? Read the book, I guess. Expand
  76. Dec 23, 2011
    10
    Fabulous acting! Such real and totally human characters and story. I really could not find one thing to fault. It is a tear jerker. Clooney should get the Best Actor Oscar, IMO.
  77. Jan 20, 2012
    9
    It was an excellent movie that captures the raw emotions of a family dealing with betrayal, pain, and loss and learning to draw together for love and support.George Clooney played his part brilliantly.
  78. Dec 25, 2011
    9
    I thought this was a great film. It was dad and funny, a real look at a family in crisis. They made you feel the pain of the characters without overt heart-tugging, the character experienced their emotions and you went along, feeling for them or not....
  79. 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 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
  80. Mar 2, 2012
    9
    Into Personal Hell Alexander Payne makes films like novels. Unlike most films made from novels, none of the clever writing or sub-text is missing - it's all there on the screen. His work is character-driven, with seemingly loose plots, and are aimed at adults. In a world of cartoonish, special effects driven films, it's a great relief that he is here. This is darker than Sideways, and in some respects, just as good. Hawaii may look like paradise, but for Payne, it's paradise schmaradise. Gorgeous George plays against type. He is a schlumpy lawyer from a deeply rich local family. His almost dead wife has had an affair behind his floral shirted back. Forced to get a grip on his kids and his life, Matt King (Clooney) succeeds in confronting all the **** he has been long avoiding, including his wife's lover and his own family. In the climax to the sub-plot that's the most obvious part of the film, he tells his extended family he won't permit the last piece of family virgin land to be exploited, so that they can all be rich. He tells them if they don't like it, they can sue him. He says goodbye to his wayward, dying wife in a scene that is moving and true to life. The human comedy is Payne's game, and it is unusual for a US movie with mainstream stars to feature death so prominently. But it works. The surface has rays of light through the Hawaiian clouds, but don't kid yourself. This is as deep and unforgiving as American films get. If you want jet black death, watch Bergman's Cries and Whispers. If you want Americano death, you get a shot of cream and whiff of sugar. Yeh, give George his Oscar already - he won't get one for Oceans 14, and he's not going to the Middle East again. And give Payne one for his screenplay. Expand
  81. Jan 1, 2012
    8
    Interesting adult story with good performances all around. My wish was that the scenes did not linger on the deathbed of the wife. We got it. It drifted into drawn out sentimentality at that point. Nonetheless, well worth seeing.
  82. Feb 17, 2012
    8
    Great movie with great feelings and awesome laughs. The ending could have been better and shorter (the only part when I was bored was the ending), but otherwise I really recommend it to you.
  83. Jan 24, 2012
    8
    After an unmerited winning an Oscar for supporting actor in SYRIANA (2005), George Clooney has been radiating his acting prowess since then alongside his director ambitions. After two nominated leading performances in MICHAEL CLAYTON (2007) and UP IN THE AIR (2009), I am ambivalent to judge if he is able to manage another stretch to bag another Oscar nomination seeing that he is not as multi-faceted as Jack Nicholson or DeNiro. THE DESCENDANTS is Alexander Payneâ Expand
  84. Jan 14, 2012
    10
    www.unsungfilms.com
    by Georgia Xanthopoulou

    George Clooney, the sea and sun of Hawaii, floral patterns. Still, this isnâ
  85. Jan 26, 2012
    8
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Clooney and co. bring the quality.

    If actors were pieces of meat, George Clooney would be some sort of pricey premium cut. If actors were drinks, he would be the kind of finely aged scotch you've seen mature so perfectly it almost seems a crime to open it. If actors wer- the point is, the man seems to have developed a talent for picking his spots every Oscar season, often appearing in highly emotional, purpose-driven fare personally customised to earn him at least a nomination for Best Actor. This year is no different, as Clooney appears in not one, but two critically appraised films, and it is his efforts, along with an excellent supporting cast and magnetic script, that put The Descendants in prime position to take out the year's top prize. The title refers to Matt King (Clooney) and his daughters Alex (Shailene Woodley) and Scottie (Amara Miller). The extended King family are the descendants of affluent Hawaiians, and so continue to own their ancestor's many miles of untouched, pristine land. With Matt being promoted to primary stakeholder, he now holds the majority vote in the decision to sell this land. Important, yes, but this pales in comparison to the other big deal in Matt's life: a pair of unruly daughters, a wife whom he discovers has been cheating on him, and a boating accident that has placed said wife in an indefinite coma.

    With each passing year, it becomes more difficult to distinguish between good, honest films released over the holiday period, and those simply pining for an award or two. Certainly, this film has many typical elements of an Oscar-baiter: an intimate setting, an emphasis on interpersonal relationships and a protagonist at a crossroads in life. Very little of the synopsis is truly original, but the film draws its appeal from just how the story is told. On top of delivering a powerhouse performance, Clooney is present in virtually every scene which, coupled with the sporadic use of voiceover narration, gives the audience an intricate insight into the mentally-crippling decisions one man is forced to make in an attempt to keep his family together.

    The film starts off simply enough, but becomes more emotionally complex with each scene. The audience is introduced to Matt, we learn of his wife, we learn of the wife's indiscretions, whom she had an affair with and why this man is of more significance to the story than first thought. For almost two hours, The Descendants progressively builds to a climax that is altogether well rounded, conclusive and memorable, like some sort of grand operatic piece. Or Stairway to Heaven, whatever. Of course, this couldn't be a Best Picture nominee without some underlying themes to accompany the plot. The film deals a lot with life decisions. That is, which one is the right one, and how the most obvious or most favoured option may not always be best. But, in some sort of strange, complimentary fashion, the most surprising aspect of this movie is how plain funny it is. To be clear, The Descendants has no intention of being classified as a comedy, but its unique infusion of 'grown-up' storytelling and often very politically incorrect humour adds depth in the pure entertainment department, particularly for those who may be deterred into thinking this film is just another sob story.

    If an ambition to be bold is the film's main event, then its efforts to avoid predictability as the plot thickens is its equally strong undercard. As Matt and family take a trip out to the islands so he can show his kids exactly how much of the land is theirs, one daughter recalls how she used to camp out on one particular stretch of beach with her mother when she was younger. This sounds like a certain case of foreshadowing, but Matt knows that, given the events unfolding around them, one camping trip will not solve much. This is but one example of the maturity and monk-like dedication to persistently engaging the audience, making The Descendants a must-see anytime before Oscar night.

    *There's nothing I love more than a bit of feedback, good or bad. So drop me a line on jnatsis@iprimus.com.au and let me know what you thought of my review.*
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  86. Jan 22, 2012
    10
    Best movie of the year. There was not too much competition though. The acting was the best of the year and the whole movie just felt real to me. I thought it might be too sappy for my taste, but it wasn't too bad in that department. At some parts, I actually laughed. Overall, a must see.
  87. Mar 17, 2012
    10
    I loved it. Solid acting by the cast, Incredibly realistic view on how cheating can utterly devistate a family. I cant see how people hate this film, Its really good.
  88. 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.
  89. Feb 3, 2012
    10
    Now this movie lacks a lot of stuff--no car chases, no explosions, no nudity...but it does not lack for great acting and a strong story line. If you can take movies with only the latter, this is for you.
  90. Feb 4, 2012
    10
    Just seen the movie The Descendants OK movie but not worthy of an Oscar of any kind.
    The best actor in the movie was â
  91. Feb 20, 2012
    10
    Alexander Payne hasn't directed a feature-length film since 2004's Sideways, but if you're concerned that his seven-year absence might have dulled his storytelling skills, you can go ahead and put those fears to rest. The Descendants is the best film Payne has created yet, and features two career-defining performances, one from arguably the biggest movie star in Hollywood, and the other from an up-and-coming young actress that you'll be hearing plenty of great things about. George Clooney stars as Matt King, a Hawaiian native whose family is heir to a massive stretch of undeveloped beachfront property on the island of Kauai. As sole trustee, Matt must ultimately decide whether to sell that land to investors and make himself and his greedy, overbearing relatives rich beyond their wildest dreams. In the midst of this conflict arises another issue of a much more personal nature: Matt's wife, Elizabeth, is lying comatose after a boating accident, and she's not expected to wake up. Not only must Matt find a way to cope with this tragedy, he must also find a way to reconnect with his two daughters, the bratty but well-meaning Scottie (Amara Miller) and the angry, troubled Alexandra (Shailene Woodley). When Matt finally breaks the news to Alex that her mother's living will requests that she be removed from life support, she drops another bombshell: it seems that Elizabeth was having an affair. Clooney expertly navigates the myriad of troubles that Matt is presented with, doing some of the most complex work of his career as he inhabits this disheveled, defeated man who tries so hard to do the right thing for everyone without having the slightest clue what the "right thing" is. Clooney's performance is buoyed by a terrific supporting cast, including Beau Bridges as a greedy cousin pressuring Matt to sell the land, and Robert Forster as Matt's surly, tough-as-nails father-in-law. While we spend most of our time focused on Matt, it often feels like the centerpiece of the film is Alex, magnificently portrayed by Shailene Woodley (in her film debut) as the perfect embodiment of adolescent rage. The moment when she spitefully reveals her mother's secret feels so authentic that the audience feels like they're intruding on a real-life conversation between a parent and their angsty teen, but despite the character's bratty nature, the bond she begins to develop with her estranged father as they embark on a darkly comedic quest for answers becomes the driving force of the film. There's not a single character in The Descendants that doesn't have some sort of flaw, and the film makes no effort to paint them as anything but dysfunctional. We invest ourselves in the lives of these characters because there's something about each of them that we can recognize and relate to. Nobody in this film is perfect, and that's precisely what makes this a perfect film. --www.nerdrep.com Expand
  92. Feb 26, 2012
    10
    I can safely say that George Clooney is quickly becoming, in terms of acting, this generations Cary Grant. He delivers a brilliant performance in the Descendants as a distracted and distant father and husband forced to deal with a family crisis. The movie itself does an amazing job of mixing the events of a family in an emotional crisis with lighthearted touches. You will laugh and cry. The wonder of this movie is that it does not try hard to accomplish any of this. It feels genuine through out. Keep a close eye on George's facial expressions as he struggles to deal with his families situation - they are worth the price of admission alone. Expand
  93. Mar 11, 2012
    8
    This movie is soo great, im thrilled about the characters, the actors made an amazing performance. But the thing i don't like about it is the last scene at the hospital with George and Judy Greer that wasn't what i was expecting. Leaving that behind the movie is highly recommended is a deep story well played.
  94. Mar 21, 2012
    10
    "The Descendants" is a movie many won't quite get, but when you forget preconceived notion then you'll realize that this is actually one of the better looks at the American family in cinema that has been done in recent years. Alexander Payne continues to rise the ranks as a now established director and George Clooney delivers a dynamic performance Matt King, the films main character. Shailene Woodley however makes the biggest impact with her star-making performance as Alexandra, Matt's rebellious party animal daughter. Its a far cry from the show that made her famous and she really does a stellar job paired with Clooney. Expand
  95. Mar 24, 2012
    8
    The Descendants is a good not a great movie . Overall i enjoyed the film with its interesting characters, some being quite annoying though . I usually am not a fan of George Clooney but i though he did a wonderful job in this film
  96. 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.
  97. Jul 13, 2012
    8
    stunning movie. great story, george clooney does great, and the fact that its in hawaii makes it even better. the scenery is brerathtaking, and the background music hawaiin. its all so great. comical at times, yet sad alot as well. must see.
  98. Jun 4, 2012
    8
    A very well done movie with GORGEOUS scenery throughout. I couldn't help they were rubbing into our face how much nicer Hawaii is then well....anywhere else. Makes you re-think living it upstate New York. Anyway, all very good performances, and I enjoyed how unsympathetic the mother/wife in the coma was after awhile.
  99. 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...
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.