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Review: The Descendants

February 1, 2012

The Descendants

  • Starring: George Clooney (Ocean’s Eleven), Shailene Woodley, (The Secret Life of the American Teenager), Amara Miller
  • Directed by: Alexander Payne
  • Synopsis: “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.” (The Descendants official site)
  • Rated: R for language and sexual references
  • Trailer:

“George Clooney sure can run!”

Nominated for 5 Oscars and several other countless awards, I HAD to go see what all the fuss was about when it came to George Clooney’s second film of 2011, The Descendants. So many positive comments and glowing reviews for this movie made me already bound and determined to NOT like this film. (It’s one of the reasons I refuse to get an iPhone…EVERYBODY has one and is insistent upon telling me that it is the perfect phone for me solely because it is the only smartphone they ever liked, or ever bothered to learn how to use.)

Well, I may never get an iPhone (Go Android!!) 😀 , but The Descendants was fantastic! Here’s just a few reasons why I liked it:

The gorgeous cinematography. I don’t remember whose review I was reading that mentioned the fact that director Alexander Payne seemed intent upon reminding you in The Descendants that they are in Hawaii, but it’s true. (Sorry if it was your review. Let me know and I will make sure you receive credit for it.) There are so many panoramic views of the Hawaiian horizons in this film that each time I saw one I laughed to myself remembering those words. However, it works so beautifully and keeps you in the atmosphere of the film and the story it tells. Sharing that, even in “paradise,” trouble can abound…yet be overcome! And even though there are also several close-ups of George Clooney, you don’t mind the added look into the mind and heart of his character.

The great cast and crew. George Clooney and Shailene Woodley = wow! And that goes for everyone else in the film also. From the very beginning there is no inkling of lack of proper emotion, depth, and humanity of each of the characters. Alexander Payne picked the right actors for every single part of this drama that touches on emotions of all kinds respectfully and realistically. I was, and still remain, highly impressed by them all. Even Nick Krause who played the carefree and unsure teenage friend of Woodley’s, “Sid.”

The realistically relatable story. The aforementioned reality of the characters and relation to them is so strong in part because of the amazing relatable story. This is a story about a man, who, not in touch with his family, is forced through less-than preferred circumstances, to come to grip with life and what is most important. All of the other pressures of life come secondary when it comes to family and the legacy passed on to one’s descendants. His ancestors provided to make sure he was taken care of, and now he must scramble to do the same. People, especially parents, will find this film to be a gem along the way on their trek of mistake-filled but perserverant parenting (especially single parents).

George Clooney’s running! 😀

I fully began this review with the determination to tell you these following words: “The Descendants is a good movie, but is really overhyped when it comes to this year’s award season.” I really meant to say that…I did. What? You’re looking as if I’m lying to you! Ha! I did. I truly expected to tell you that The Descendants is a fun film but is not worthy to be included in the ranks of those that occupy the category of my favorite 2011 films. I wanted to say that.

…but that was before I finished watching and reviewing it. I can’t say that now. In fact…I’d have to claim “Semi-Opposite Day” after those words if I were to tell you those things.

I hope you enjoy The Descendants. I know I did. A very beautiful film on so many levels. Worth a view…or two. “One of the best of 2011…and definitely better than an iPhone!” 🙂

Thanks for reading! Happy Watching!

Score:  4.5 out of 5 stars for The Descendants

T, The Focused Filmographer

up next: “Trailer Time Thursday!”

28 Comments leave one →
  1. February 1, 2012 9:42 am

    Yeah, this is one of my favorites of 2011. Excellent review of it, T. Well done.


    • February 1, 2012 9:42 am

      Thank you sir! I appreciate it. I was quite surprised with how taken I was with the film.


    • February 1, 2012 10:34 am

      Me too Lep! 😀


  2. February 1, 2012 10:33 am

    So happy you liked it man, I’m guilty as charged when it comes to hyping this movie. I loved it though. The cast was great, as you say. No doubt about it. The script was great and so was the scenery, as you point out.

    I think there’s a really wonderful themes about taking care of the next generation (our descendants)… It makes it a more meaningful movie than just a typical family drama.

    Oh, and I left this comment via my iPhone 4s. It’s awesome. You should get one.


    • February 1, 2012 8:02 pm

      ha! Keep your phone!

      lol. thanks for the comment. Yeah, it really was great and had some fantastic underlying themes.


  3. February 1, 2012 2:53 pm

    Glad you liked this one. I will have to catch this when its on dvd


    • February 1, 2012 8:02 pm

      I did. I hope you like it and that you get to see it sooner rather than later.


  4. February 1, 2012 3:46 pm

    What I enjoyed most about this film was that it was filled with alot of real emotion, especially from the younger cast. The young actresses who played Clooney’s daughters added so much to the film, as well as “Sid”…he was hilarious. I didn’t expect you not to like it…lol

    So how was “One for the Money”? No review for that one huh? lol


    • February 1, 2012 8:03 pm

      you it the nail on the head there. full of appropriate emotion in each scene and the kids were “real.”

      ha. I think I may skip on actually writing the review for that bad flick. I dunno, perhaps after vacay. What a waste of time.


  5. February 1, 2012 4:02 pm

    Ah, I half expected a perfect score! Good review as always T, I keep hoping this will come to a theater near me soon…


    • February 1, 2012 8:04 pm

      almost got it too!

      Can’t wait for you to see it. Thanks for the comment.


  6. February 1, 2012 8:06 pm

    Honestly, I wasn’t the huuuuugest fan of The Descendants, but I did enjoy it. You mention that when the film starts out, we’re unaware of the depth that’s going to come from these characters, but that’s what turned me off- I spent the first half of the movie following along but not ever really getting invested, and it’s only when things kick into high (emotional) gear towards the second half that the move really spoke to me.

    Great Review!


    • February 2, 2012 10:39 am

      I understand where you’re coming from. Glad you were still able to enjoy it as the movie played on.


  7. February 2, 2012 1:35 am

    Loved it as much as you did. I’ve seen mixed reviews on this, but personally I can’t wait to watch it again. It’s like a carpet of emotions slowly being made thread by thread. Wouldn’t mind it winning an Oscar!


    • February 2, 2012 10:40 am

      I wouldn’t mind either. Thanks for commenting today! So glad u liked it too.


  8. February 2, 2012 1:47 am

    I am super pleased that we are on the same page with this one T.

    I have seen so many not so great reviews I was starting to think I was on my own!! LOL


    • February 2, 2012 10:41 am

      I was VERY surprised at how much I enjoyed it! Thanks Scott. I hope you have a great weekend!


  9. February 2, 2012 5:01 am

    I was very surprised by it, because I loved it and I wasn’t expecting that! Great film and Clooney is, indeed, fantastic in this movie! Nice review!


    • February 2, 2012 10:43 am

      Thank you Diana. Appreciate the compliment and the comment! Glad u liked the movie too!


  10. February 2, 2012 8:11 am

    A really good film from one of the best directors working in Hollywood today. Great review T!


    • February 2, 2012 10:44 am

      Agreed Dan! Wasn’t expecting it to be so pleasing!


  11. February 2, 2012 12:02 pm

    I’m going to see if it’s still playing in my local theaters. Looks really good and your review confirmed it!


    • February 3, 2012 11:06 pm

      I hope you get to see it soon. I think you will really enjoy it. A lot more than an iPhone!


  12. February 2, 2012 9:01 pm

    Glad you liked it T. Solid flick although I would have wanted more dry humor from Clooney. It’s a bit too heavy handed at times and definitely one of those Oscar bait movies but overall, it’s nice story about forgiveness and accepting the best and worst of the people around you.


    • February 3, 2012 11:11 pm

      You’re right Castor. It is a great movie about forgiveness and acceptance!


  13. February 3, 2012 12:05 am

    I loved it too. It was a movie with heart but still fun to watch. Glad you liked it. Android/iPhone, all comes back to the person 🙂 Nice review


    • February 3, 2012 11:13 pm

      Hi Andina! Thanks for reading. Glad you enjoyed the review. I really liked this one.



  1. Movie News Monday for March 12, 2012! « The Focused Filmographer

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