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The Descendants

3.2 13
Director: Alexander Payne

Cast: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller


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Alexander Payne's seriocomic The Descendants, an adaptation of the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings, stars George Clooney as Matt King, a middle-age Hawaiian who runs a trust responsible for millions of dollars worth of untouched real estate that has been passed down


Alexander Payne's seriocomic The Descendants, an adaptation of the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings, stars George Clooney as Matt King, a middle-age Hawaiian who runs a trust responsible for millions of dollars worth of untouched real estate that has been passed down to him and various cousins. He is preparing to sell the area, and make millions for everyone in the trust, when his wife suffers severe head trauma during a boat race. As he attempts to get her affairs in order, he learns that she had been having an affair. With his two daughters in tow, along with his oldest daughter's doofus boyfriend, Matt sets off to confront the man who made him a cuckold. Beau Bridges, Judy Greer, and Robert Forster co-star. The Descendants screened at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
Satire requires coldheartedness. A satirist must see the hypocrisies that most of us willfully ignore or ignorantly overlook, and fearlessly throw them back into our faces. Alexander Payne is an excellent satirist -- Election and Citizen Ruth take no prisoners in their jaundiced explorations of American political and social mores. But The Descendants, his third movie in a row in which he's actually tried to tug heartstrings while still playing to his instincts, reveals how hard it is for someone so gifted at cynicism to let genuine tenderness into his film. George Clooney stars as Matt King, a successful Hawaiian businessman whose wife Elizabeth goes into a coma after a boating accident. As his wife remains in critical condition, he pulls his rebellious teen daughter Alexandra (Shailene Woodley) out of her expensive private boarding school so she can be nearby and help take care of her elementary-age sister Scottie (Amara Miller). While doctors assure Matt that his wife will not recover, he learns that she was unfaithful to him. Filled with a tsunami of roiling emotions, Matt hits the road with his daughters and Alexandra's dim boyfriend Sid (Nick Krause) to confront the other man, Brian Speer (Matthew Lillard). Payne is most comfortable with discomfort -- his comedy often relies on embarrassment, and The Descendants is no exception. When Matt first learns of his wife's affair from Alexandra, he puts on flip-flops and does a long, silly-looking run to his best friends' house in order to verify it. It's as if Payne doesn't trust real drama and has to undercut it at almost every turn. He enjoys mocking his characters, and while he's got a mordant-enough sense of humor to earn laughs that way, this often results in undercutting real pain and suffering. The clearest example of this comes in a climactic scene in which Brian's wife Julie (a flawless Judy Greer in an award-worthy supporting turn) arrives at Elizabeth's bedside to address the fact that this comatose woman was sleeping with her husband. Greer gives a raw and powerful performance, but instead of letting her have her moment, the scene cuts her off -- as if mocking her for having feelings -- before shifting gears and letting Matt have a tender good-bye with his wife. Payne also betrays his unease with earnestness in the scene in which everyone finally fills in Scottie on what's happening with her mother. He handles it in a montage without any dialogue, so that we don't have to be depressed by the young girl's response. From another director, such a move might come off as tactful, but Payne's best movies don't have any tact at all -- that's their strong suit. To be sure, there are good things in The Descendants: The acting is uniformly excellent, the Hawaiian locations are gorgeous, and there are moments when Payne's instinct to make a situation more awkward heightens the dramatic tension -- when Matt finally comes face-to-face with Brian, we really don't know what he's going to do. It's certainly a good movie, but, with a different director, The Descendants might have been a better one.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Fox Home Video
Region Code:
[Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround]

Special Features

Everybody Loves George; Working with Alexander; The Read Descendants; Hawaiian Style; Casting; Working with Walter; "Will I Ever See You Again" Music Video; Postcards from Paradise Music Video; "Honolulu's Whisper" Music Video; Waiting for the Light; The World Parade - Hawaii (Silent Film); A Conversation with George Clooney and Alexander Payne; Deleted Scenes; ; Closed Caption

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
George Clooney Matt King
Shailene Woodley Alexandra King
Amara Miller Scottie King
Judy Greer Julie Speer
Beau Bridges Cousin Hugh
Nick Krause Sid
Patricia Hastie Elizabeth King
Matthew Lillard Brian Speer
Robert Forster Scott Thorson
Grace A. Cruz Scottie's Teacher
Kim Gennaula School Counselor
Karen Kuioka Hironaga Barb Higgins
Carmen Kaichi Lani Higgins
Kaui Hart Hemmings Matt's Secretary Noe
Matt Corboy Cousin Ralph
Matt Esecson Cousin Hal
Michael Ontkean Cousin Milo
Stanton Johnston Cousin Stan
Jonathan McManus Cousin Six
Hugh Foster Cousin Wink
Tiare R. Finney Cousin Connie
Tom McTigue Cousin Dave
Milt [Lewis] Kogan Dr. Johnston
Mary Birdsong Kai Mitchell
Rob Huebel Mark Mitchell
Laird Hamilton Troy Cook
Aileen "Boo" Arnold Dorm Supervisor
Esther Kang Alex's Roommate
Melissa Kim Alex's Drunken Friend
Barbara Lee Southern Alice "Tutu" Thorson
Celia Kenney Reina
Matthew Reese Buzz
Zoel Turnbull Hotel Clerk
Linda Rose Herman Grief Counselor
Scott Michael Morgan Barry Thorson
Darryl K. Gonzales Tahiti Nui Singer (Kanak Attack)
Koko Kanealii Tahiti Nui Singer (Kanak Attack)
Romey "Keola" Yokotake Tahiti Nui Singer (Kanak Attack)

Technical Credits
Alexander Payne Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Dondi Bastone Musical Direction/Supervision
Tracey Boyd Associate Producer
Jim Burke Producer
Wendy Chuck Costumes/Costume Designer
Nat Faxon Screenwriter
Richard L. Fox Asst. Director
Frank Gaeta Sound/Sound Designer
John Jackson Casting
Timothy Kirkpatrick Art Director
Phedon Papamichael Cinematographer
George Parra Co-producer
Karen Iboshi Preiser Makeup
Jim Rash Screenwriter
Jane Ann Stewart Production Designer
Jim Taylor Producer
Kevin Tent Editor

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Descendants
1. Scene 1 [:27]
2. Scene 2 [2:51]
3. Scene 3 [3:39]
4. Scene 4 [2:10]
5. Scene 5 [1:18]
6. Scene 6 [3:54]
7. Scene 7 [3:40]
8. Scene 8 [4:38]
9. Scene 9 [3:17]
10. Scene 10 [3:37]
11. Scene 11 [4:42]
12. Scene 12 [1:45]
13. Scene 13 [3:53]
14. Scene 14 [4:42]
15. Scene 15 [:02]
16. Scene 16 [2:22]
17. Scene 17 [2:10]
18. Scene 18 [2:27]
19. Scene 19 [1:53]
20. Scene 20 [6:21]
21. Scene 21 [7:45]
22. Scene 22 [4:59]
23. Scene 23 [5:52]
24. Scene 24 [3:50]
25. Scene 25 [3:09]
26. Scene 26 [:58]
27. Scene 27 [1:53]
28. Scene 28 [3:08]
29. Scene 29 [2:48]
30. Scene 30 [3:46]
31. Scene 31 [4:57]
32. Scene 32 [2:27]


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The Descendants 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Chapter1-Take1 More than 1 year ago
Kaui Hart Hemming's novel The Descendants swept me away. I'm relieved to say the film didn't disappoint. It's rich, complicated, emotional. A surprising and refreshing mix of funny comingling with the sad. A grownup's movie with an R rating owing to its use, primarily of the f-word. It's always difficult to watch a film and miss the parts that didn't make it to the screen; it's that depth and richness of setting and character development filmmakers don't have time for. So while I may have shed a quick tear for Matt King's home without the quirky housekeeper, the hospital without the scene in the gift shop where Matt the buys up all the soft core postcards flouting his gorgeous 15 year old daughter Alex, in a bikini, without the scene where Scottie hops on their beach club bar stool singing for a drink like her mother used to; I shed many more for what did make it into the movie. I've never seen George Clooney so unattractively attractive. He wears faded cotton Hawaiian shirts tucked into dockers. Tucked in. Not cool. Kind of like a nerdy accountant. He never gets to dazzle us with his movie star smile or twinkle sardonically. He never gets to be George Clooney. Instead, he is Matt King, a man whose wild wife is in a coma caused by a boating accident, who has two daughters he has no idea how to deal with, a huge decision about what to do with a land inheritance, and the newfound knowledge that his wife was having an affair. He's a man at once confused and angry and grieving by the events taking place. Every gesture, every stunned expression, every look of resignation rang true. When he cried, I cried too. As in the book, his daughters shock him with their behavior and their language. The eldest daughter, Alex played by Shailene Woodley was honest and pure in her disgusted responses to her father and deserved anger with her comatose mother. She's a natural beauty too with the most amazingly expressive eyes, an actress one wants to watch. Young Amara Miller is pitch perfect as the both moody and needy Scottie. Matt Lillard, formerly known as Shaggy and that guy in Up A Creek with Seth Green and Dax Shepher, made the most of his small amount of screen time as did Judy Greer. I also enjoyed Nick Krause's performance, the stocky young actor played Sid the stoner with a wide and open grin, providing much of the comic relief. Alexander Payne, the director, who is known for his interest in locales and settings, showed Hawaii perfectly. The real Hawaii; not just the postcard picture perfect place we imagine when booking vacations. Oahu with it's crowded freeways, its big city with its share of poverty, and homelessness, and ugly architecture, its beautiful beaches crowded out by hotel after condo after hotel, as well as the soft and lovely landscape where guess what, sometimes it gets a bit grey. Sometimes it rains. Paradise isn't all it's cracked up to be. While there are spots of breathtaking beauty - notably the thousands of acres of land fronting an idyllic bay that Matt's family has owned for generations and which he now has to decide what to do with - I don't know that I've ever seen a film that painted Hawaii as a setting so realistically. Payne has said himself that the film is a little exposition heavy - the George Clooney voice over does come in quite a bit. But for me it was pitch perfect. Mature. Deep and velvety. At times bemused, at others the confusion, the anger, the hurt, but finally the contentment rings through. You should see
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