Universal acclaim - based on 43 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 395 Ratings

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  • Summary: Matt King is 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. (Fox Searchlight) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 38 out of 43
  2. Negative: 0 out of 43
  1. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Nov 15, 2011
    It's a precarious balance, but Payne blends wit and poignancy so artfully it feels like an exquisitely choreographed dance.
  2. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Nov 16, 2011
    What happens is that we get vested in the lives of these characters. That's rare in a lot of movies.
  3. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Nov 23, 2011
    The Descendants would still be a splendid movie without him; with Clooney, it's one of 2011's very best.
  4. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Nov 22, 2011
    At bottom, all Payne's films make us smile, often ruefully but hopefully.
  5. Reviewed by: Dan Jolin
    Jan 23, 2012
    A marvellous follow-up to 2004's "Sideways" - well worth the wait.
  6. Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    Nov 14, 2011
    In short, The Descendants is the latest exhibit in Payne's careful dissection of the beached male, which runs from Matthew Broderick's character in "Election" to Jack Nicholson's in "About Schmidt" and Paul Giamatti's in "Sideways."
  7. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Sep 14, 2011
    I'm a notorious softie, and I found things to like about the film, most particularly Clooney's performance; but I remained untouched.

See all 43 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 82 out of 115
  2. Negative: 10 out of 115
  1. Nov 25, 2011
    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
  2. Jan 22, 2012
    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. Expand
  3. Aug 10, 2012
    At times it could be melodramatic, but this was both hilarious and heartfelt in classic Alexander Payne style. Total sidenote: who knew Shailene Woodley could act? That was a shocker... Expand
  4. Lyn
    Feb 5, 2012
    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
  5. Mar 10, 2012
    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
  6. Jan 29, 2012
    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
  7. Jun 15, 2012
    Absolutely lame. Uneventful, boring, and self-absorbed. The writers try in vain to express human pain through cinematic garbage. Clooney's character is the worst father and must be a concoction of today's liberal version of what a father should be like. Best film of the year? Possible since most films made today are terrible too. Expand

See all 115 User Reviews


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