The Descendants
The Descendants
Image: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Film Review

Film title
The Descendants
Alexander Payne
George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller, Judy Greer, Matthew Lillard
Release date
27 Jan

The Descendants

4/5 stars
Film review by Chris Fyvie.
Published 23 January 2012

Alexander Payne (Sideways, Election) directs his first film in seven years with this charming comedy. Matt King (Clooney), trustee to his extended family's valuable plot of picturesque territory in Hawaii that's been passed down through generations, is all at sea after his wife falls into a coma following a boating accident. Having to take more direct responsibility for his two precocious daughters whilst also juggling the responsibility of brokering the sale of the land to keep his oddball relatives happy, the waters are muddied further with the discovery of his spouse’s long-term affair.

Though lacking the acid bite of his best work, there’s certainly enough wit and eccentricity to draw favourable comparisons, and by eschewing dreary sentimentality Payne elicits genuine warmth for his film’s protagonists. Clooney is excellent as the frustrated and befuddled Matt, and Shailene Woodley, as his embittered eldest, Alex, provides one of the most impressive breakthrough performances in years. Moving, thoughtful and frequently hilarious, it’s good to have Payne back. [Chris Fyvie]


Comments (20)

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  • "moving, thoughtful, hillarious?" Well if that all occurred in the last 30 minutes of the film you could be right. For me, I could not bear it that long and walked out. So what was funny?... the young girl giving the finger to the guy who was driving the boat that killed her mother? It was about the only time I heard the audience laugh. I thought that moment was a good description of the tasteless "humor" Hollywood bends for in order to get our attention. I thought the movie was totally boring. Slow, and "oh-so-heavy." NOT!!! Hollywood does not know what real deep meaning is ever since they sacrificed God and Holiness on their alter of sleaze, gore, gross, and juvenile excitement. It's all yours, pal.

    Posted by jim | Monday 06 February 2012 @ 16:53

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  • JIM. You and I should totally hang out sometime. I have Tango & Cash on Laser-Disk.

    Posted by FRED FLETCH | Monday 06 February 2012 @ 21:26

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  • Fred, I believe my obligation is to "plant the seeds." Whether it takes root in others is above and beyond my control. But as someone said, If God does not bring down harsh judgment on our current culture, He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.

    Posted by JIM | Tuesday 07 February 2012 @ 18:16

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  • I wonder if they're available via e-mail Jim, I just tried their landline and got this message,

    "Unfortunately, Sodom and/or Gomorrah aren't available right now. Please leave a message after the beep."

    You wouldn't happen to know where they are today Jim? I'm wild hungover and can't really focus and I just wanna get this apology out of the way, plus American Idol is on soon.

    Posted by God | Tuesday 07 February 2012 @ 18:28

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  • You appear to be validating testimony that casting pearls before swine is a poor use of resources.

    Honestly, Charlie (god), you occupy this earth without any fears? How strange. If I did not have utter certainty in God and life after death, I would go mad.

    I cannot connect with that kind of perspective on life. It lacks prudent analysis, logic and reason. It also settles for such a base return on the miraculous gift of human life.

    Just the same, enjoy the show. The Descendants is so fulfilling!

    Posted by Jim | Tuesday 07 February 2012 @ 21:54

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  • JIM: I bet Sodom and Gomorrah weren't successful, yet comically mismatched, narcotics detectives who can't stand each other.

    If they were, Crime Lord Yves Perret, furious at the loss of income that Sodom and Gomorrah caused him, would totally frame the two for murder. Caught with the murder weapon on the scene of the crime, the two have no alibi. Thrown into prison with most of the criminals they helped convict, it appears that they are going to have to trust each other if they are to clear their names and catch the evil Perret.

    Sodom and Gomorrah would totally high-five at the end.

    Would it seal the deal if I promised to let kiss me hard on the mouth for the entire end credits?

    Posted by FRED FLETCH | Tuesday 07 February 2012 @ 22:14

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  • Speaking of narcotics, Fred... it seems apparent you are currently entertaining yourself accordingly. I mean, who else can look at their own ramble and say.. "brilliant!"

    Posted by Jim | Tuesday 07 February 2012 @ 23:11

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  • COMING SUMMER 2012: 'JIM & FRED' - a saucy action comedy about two successful, yet comically mismatched, bloggers who can't stand each other...

    ...Thrown into a comments thread with most of the readers they helped to amuse, it appears that they are going to have to tongue each other senseless if they are to clear the air.

    "A fast paced and deliciously salacious buddy movie so spiritually meaningful I sustained multiple stigmata wounds to the dick. An absolute tour de force." - Mark Kermode

    Posted by Shukla | Wednesday 08 February 2012 @ 01:55

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    I see Bill Cosby as the gruff Chief of Police (with a heart of Gold). He never once gives up on Me & Jim & puts his life and career on the line to protect us.

    He is also a Ghost.

    I could be played by a shirtless Matthew Mcconaughey while Jim could be brought to life by the lovable Tom Sizemore in the role of his lifetime.


    Posted by FRED FLETCH | Wednesday 08 February 2012 @ 06:51

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  • Tarantino has already made a verbal agreement to direct, but only on the condition that Jim is portrayed by a CGI Richard Briers.

    Posted by Shukla | Wednesday 08 February 2012 @ 08:30

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  • HOLY SHIT, this movie is going to be awesome.
    I anticipate around $200million in production costs (With 40% of that being spent on safety-equipment for Robert Z'Dar's chin.)

    JIM, any suggestions or advice for Tarantino on how your character should be portrayed on screen?

    Posted by FRED FLETCH | Wednesday 08 February 2012 @ 18:42

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  • "Like a fundamentalist David Brent" more or less sums up Quentin's vision at this early stage.

    Posted by Shukla | Wednesday 08 February 2012 @ 19:57

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  • "et tu, shukla?"

    I suggest you seek out the truth of God before it is too late. Google Fatima 1917 and the miracle of the sun. You just might be amazed by what three little children prophesied 90 days in advance and came true on the very day they said it would.

    Below are some helpful links to miracles. I hope the two of you take hell seriously. jim

    Statue of Mary in Japan weeps 101 times.

    250,000 Muslims see Mary on cathedral roof in Egypt

    unexplained photograph.

    Posted by jim | Thursday 09 February 2012 @ 16:31

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  • I should have also mentioned... your first post /review here Shukla was quite entertaining, :D

    Fred, who should portray me? Well, seeings how I hate virtually every move that has been released since 1980 I would like to go with a young Mickey Rooney, even though people told me growing up I look like Sal Mineo. Not crazy about Sal's "gender bending" but hey, he still appears to have "got it together" more than you.

    Posted by jim | Thursday 09 February 2012 @ 18:00

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  • Thanks for that Jim... I'll just shorten that to 'Complete-Fuck-Nugget' and forward it to Tarantino.

    Below is a helpful link to miracles. I hope you take fake-stick-on-nipples seriously.

    Posted by FRED FLETCH | Thursday 09 February 2012 @ 18:22

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  • "I suggest you seek out the truth of God before it is too late"

    Jim, darling, I'm vibrating at fourth density with my dick in my hand, namsayin? I suggest you work on your own (clearly massive) issues before you try to enlighten other people.

    CASTING UPDATE: Pixar's mainframe crashed hardstyle attempting to render Jim's 'visible aura of pomposity' so they've decided to just re-use the talking potato from Toy Story by scaling him up to roughly human size.

    Posted by Shukla | Thursday 09 February 2012 @ 18:56

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  • I guess this means we are at the end of a lovely affair? It's rather apparent to me that both of you have degenerated into some base animal-like forms. Incapable of sublime thoughts on the meaning of life. I was hoping to have been of some help.

    Posted by jim | Friday 10 February 2012 @ 22:46

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    Posted by FRED FLETCH | Saturday 11 February 2012 @ 08:48

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  • Sorry, Kurt Russell and Stalone both ruined it for me. Zero appeal. Must be strange you two going through life like a couple of fruit flies? Jumping around looking for the next instant titillation. Example: our conversations on this board and how you express yourselves.

    Posted by jim | Saturday 11 February 2012 @ 10:55

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  • Fruit flies wish they got laid as much as I do.

    Posted by Shukla | Saturday 11 February 2012 @ 18:12

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