THE DESCENDANTS [2011] movie review

January 27, 2012 · Print This Article

I feel like the main character of THE DESCENDANTS is Hawaii itself.  For a number of reasons, this movie could not have worked anywhere else.  Alexander Payne directs a film that makes Hawaii seem as much like the paradise everyone thinks it is, as well as a real place with the same problems life on the mainland has.

George Clooney is introduced to us as an out of touch dad who probably works too much, but since his wife is in a coma from a boating accident, he can no longer be the “backup parent” as he describes himself.  He has two daughters, 17 and 10, and he is nearly clueless on how to handle them along with his wife’s condition.

The story takes all three characters on a noticeable character arc with early hostilities and tensions giving way to a supportive family unit.

Clooney’s family are long time Hawaii residents, like generations long.  In addition to supporting his nuclear family, he has to deal with his many cousins regarding what to do with a 25,000 acre land trust worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

When a secret about his comatose wife is added to the mix, there is then no end to the emotions all the characters have to sort through.

Clooney’s oldest daughter insists on always have her friend Sid around, who appears to be a surfer doofus, but he ends up being one of my favorite parts of THE DESCENDANTS.

The ending and the big decisions made are somewhat predictable, but they felt in tone with the rest of the movie.

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