The Descendants

The Descendants Image
Metascore
84

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

User Score
7.7

Generally favorable reviews- based on 435 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 theMatt 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

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 38 out of 43
  2. Negative: 0 out of 43
  1. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Nov 15, 2011
    100
    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
    100
    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
    100
    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
    88
    At bottom, all Payne's films make us smile, often ruefully but hopefully.
  5. Reviewed by: Dan Jolin
    Jan 23, 2012
    80
    A marvellous follow-up to 2004's "Sideways" - well worth the wait.
  6. Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    Nov 14, 2011
    80
    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
    50
    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: 83 out of 123
  2. Negative: 10 out of 123
  1. 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 worldExcellent 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
    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 toBest 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
    9
    At times it could be melodramatic, but this was both hilarious and heartfelt in classic Alexander Payne style. Total sidenote: who knewAt 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
    8
    Everyone loves Clooney. And when I think of his other performances -- even in less-appreciated films like "Solaris" and "The American" -- I amEveryone 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. Jul 23, 2012
    7
    Pretty good film, Alexander Payne has come a long way as a storyteller since 'sideways', if your familiar with that film then you will knowPretty good film, Alexander Payne has come a long way as a storyteller since 'sideways', if your familiar with that film then you will know what to expect, although this is much more watchable. Clooney is less irritating than hes been in a long while, the story of family turmoil has been seen a million times before, but is well told, however, the ace card here was the decision to base it in hawaii, if it had been set, in say, pittsburgh, it would have been just another humdrum family tragedy movie, Payne doesn't waste the opportunity and uses the gorgeous scenery to good effect, the laid back feel of the islands also helps to compliment the pace of the film, its leisurely but never really boring. Clooney says at the beginning of the film that people on the mainland assume those on hawaii are living in paradise and don't feel loss or pain, they do, of course, but its a much better place to deal with emotional disasters than a bedsit in **** in january. Well written, directed and acted, not quite the Oscar winner, but definitely a decent film. Expand
  6. 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
  7. Jun 15, 2012
    2
    Absolutely lame. Uneventful, boring, and self-absorbed. The writers try in vain to express human pain through cinematic garbage. Clooney'sAbsolutely 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 123 User Reviews

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