The Descendants (2011)

descendants poster 2011 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Nice scenery, great acting, smart comedy-drama combination


Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Descendants

Studio:  Ad Hominem Enterprises

Genre(s):  Comedy/Drama

Release Date(s):  September 10, 2011 (Toronto)/November 18, 2011 (U.S.)

MPAA Rating:  R


Boy, it sure sucks living in Hawaii

Patricia Hastie (Elizabeth King) is in a coma.  She’s slowly dying and by her orders, she is about to be unplugged from life support.  Her husband Matt (George Clooney) finds himself dealing with his two daughters Alexandra (Shailene Woodley) and Scottie (Amara Miller) while trying to complete a massive family business deal to sell their ancestral property in Hawaii.  When Matt learns Patricia was having an affair with a man named Brian Speer (Matthew Lillard), his life and his relationship with his wife and children all are in question.  Matt sets out with Alexandra, Scottie, and Alexandra’s boyfriend Sid (Nick Krause) to make sense of his life as Patricia’s final hours tick away.

Directed by Alexander Payne, The Descendants adapts the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings.  It was met with great reviews and many critics declared the movie the best picture of 2011.  It won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay with nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor (Clooney), Best Director, and Best Editing.


Somewhere out there I dropped my car keys

The Descendents is a good, solid film.  With subjects of death and affairs, it is hard for some people to believe that The Descendents is a comedy-drama.  The movie doesn’t give a lot of answers to the questions.  Matt’s character goes through a lot of emotional moments to try to find peace with himself.  This transition takes the stories in directions that you don’t expect.  There aren’t any big blow-outs no huge fistfights, no breakdown between Matt and his daughters.  The drama is much more realistic and doesn’t feel bolstered for movie.  Real people don’t often have this big breakdowns and screaming matches…the few times it does happen, it feels a bit unnatural.  The comedy comes easily through the situation, but sometimes it hard to believe that Clooney’s character can be that nice.

The acting is top notch.  Clooney pulls off the Matt character without making him just a nice guy, but a guy who wants to be more angry.  Though the movie, Matt finds himself coming to terms that he has some blame in the state of his marriage and that he can’t be angry that others fell in love with Patricia.  Clooney is backed up by a strong supporting role by Woodley as his strong willed daughter that finds herself having to be an adult for the first time for the sake of her father and sister.  There are some other nice supporting appearances by Beau Bridges, Judy Greer, and Robert Forester.  Krause started out as rather obnoxious but then grew on you as he grows on Clooney’s character.  I generally don’t like Matthew Lillard, but he is tolerable in this role and I could see him as a rather sleezy real estate agent.


Dad…can we get off the couch now?

Like his other film Sideways, Payne makes you fall in love with Hawaii.  It isn’t difficult with such a beautiful place, but in the movie (just like in Sideways), you need to love the land and mourn for the lost of paradise like the character.  The talk of development of such a nice place is just painful.  There are some things that can be given up, and there are some things that must be fought for and like Clooney’s character you want to fight the development of the beautiful land.

The Descendants is a good movie.  Like many movies that are comedic, I think it is difficult for people to gauge them on their merits instead of laughs.  Payne seems to really excel on films that are adult and still able to provide laughs through a natural situation.  Comedy can be sad at the same time and The Descendants is a great example of how to pull of that dichotomy.

Related Links:

The 84th Academy Award Nominations

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response