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The Descendants

Drama . Comedy

With his wife Elizabeth on life support after a boating accident, Hawaiian land baron, Matt King takes his daughters on a trip from Oahu to Kauai to confront the young real estate broker, who was having an affair with Elizabeth before her misfortune.

Actors: Mary Birdsong , Rob Huebel , Matthew Lillard , Beau Bridges , Judy Greer , Robert Forster , Nick Krause , Amara Miller , Shailene Woodley , George Clooney
Directors: Alexander Payne
Country: USA
Release: 2011-12-09
More Info:
  • Steve Persall

    The Descendants would still be a splendid movie without him; with Clooney, it's one of 2011's very best.

    Tampa Bay Times Full Review
  • Bill Goodykoontz

    It is particularly rewarding to see Clooney outside his comfort zone of self-composed cool in The Descendants, Alexander Payne's beautifully gentle, funny and moving film.

    Arizona Republic Full Review
  • Ann Hornaday

    A pitch-perfect movie that threads a microscopically tiny needle between high comedy and devastating drama.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Joe Morgenstern

    Rarely has a contemporary movie taken in so much life and revealed it with such depth of feeling.

    Wall Street Journal Full Review
  • Steven Rea

    Clooney has never been better, subtler, more deeply rooted in a performance than he is in The Descendants. And he's funny, too.

    Philadelphia Inquirer Full Review
  • Roger Ebert

    What happens is that we get vested in the lives of these characters. That's rare in a lot of movies.

    Chicago Sun-Times Full Review
  • Owen Gleiberman

    Another beautifully chiseled piece of filmmaking - sharp, funny, generous, and moving.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • Peter Rainer

    Clooney and Payne are coconspirators, too. They know that the story they are telling is too emotionally complicated to muck up with a lot of preening and artifice. They head right into the sad and crazymaking humor of the situation. This is a modest marvel of a movie.

    Christian Science Monitor Full Review
  • Michael Phillips

    It's one of the year's most pleasurable American movies.

    Chicago Tribune Full Review
  • Lou Lumenick

    Expertly mixing tears and laughs with the sort of alchemy not seen since "Terms of Endearment," this superbly written, directed, acted, and yes, Oscar-friendly movie perfectly captures the blackly comic insanity that can overtake a family forced to confront an impending death.

    New York Post Full Review
  • Claudia Puig

    It's a precarious balance, but Payne blends wit and poignancy so artfully it feels like an exquisitely choreographed dance.

    USA Today Full Review
  • Peter Travers

    Payne's low-key approach only deepens the film's intimate power. Want a movie you can really connect with? The Descendants is damn near perfect.

    Rolling Stone Full Review
  • A.O. Scott

    To call The Descendants perfect would be a kind of insult, a betrayal of its commitment to, and celebration of, human imperfection. Its flaws are impossible to distinguish from its pleasures.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • Gail MacDonald

    Heartwarming, tragic and, at times, hilariously funny drama.

    The Globe and Mail (Toronto) Full Review
  • Todd McCarthy

    After a five-year wait since "Sideways," Alexander Payne has made his best film yet with The Descendants. Ostensibly a study of loss and coping with a tragic situation, this wonderfully nuanced look at a father and two daughters dealing with the imminent death of his wife and their mother turns the miraculous trick of possibly being even funnier than it is moving.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Pete Hammond

    The Descendants is that rare bird, moving, enlightening, funny and unapologetically human. It's one of the year's best pictures, one to savor and think about.

    Boxoffice Magazine Full Review
  • Shawn Levy

    There are ample opportunities for the film to soak in pathos, righteousness, farce, or pictorialism, and Payne manages to nod at those pitfalls without falling into them. In a way, it's just like Matt King's world: enviably plush but filled with the real pain of real life.

    Portland Oregonian Full Review
  • Eric Kohn

    The Descendants constantly hovers on the brink of a dark comedy. But it never takes the big plug. By treading carefully, Payne has created his warmest, most earnest work, if not his best.

    indieWIRE Full Review
  • Peter Debruge

    Nearly every detail sources directly back to Kaui Hart Hemmings' sensitively crafted novel, and yet, Payne's triumph is in striking the right tone -- and knowing what to leave unsaid.

    Variety Full Review
  • Rene Rodriguez

    All of Payne's films have been driven by the anger and frustration of his protagonists, but The Descendants is the first one in which sadness lurks behind every frame.

    Miami Herald Full Review
  • Mike Scott

    At times humorous, at times poignant, but always absorbing.

    New Orleans Times-Picayune Full Review
  • Lawrence Toppman

    At bottom, all Payne's films make us smile, often ruefully but hopefully.

    Charlotte Observer Full Review
  • Joe Williams

    An Oscar-ready collaboration between a great director and a star at the peak of his powers, but at its heart is a message in a bottle reading: "Trapped in paradise. Please send help."

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch Full Review
  • Ty Burr

    I can't think of another movie this year that made me laugh or weep harder for the whole lumpy business of being - the compromises and connections that get us through the day and somehow add up to entire lives.

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • James Berardinelli

    The two most moving scenes require extraordinary performances from supporting players...Forster is as deserving of a supporting actor nomination as anyone I have seen this year.

    ReelViews Full Review
  • Jaime N. Christley

    In a development that seemed to begin in earnest with "Sideways," a large part of The Descendents seems to operate on a non-narrative level.

    Slant Magazine Full Review
  • Dan Jolin

    A marvellous follow-up to 2004's "Sideways" - well worth the wait.

    Empire Full Review
  • Joe Neumaier

    Payne's observational humor and attention to detail yield something emotionally epic. Everything from beachfront jogs to hospital confessions reveals layers of humanity and absurdity.

    New York Daily News Full Review
  • Keith Uhlich

    This is an exquisite portrait of a family navigating the wreckage imparted to them by one of their own.

    Time Out New York Full Review
  • Betsy Sharkey

    It makes The Descendants a tragedy infused with comedy and calls for a balancing act from filmmaker and star alike, a tightrope they navigate with nary a wobble.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • David Edelstein

    Payne is too acerbic - maybe too much of an asshole - to settle for easy humanism. But he's too smart a dramatist to settle for easy derision. Mockery and empathy seesaw, the balance precarious - and thrillingly so. It's the noblest kind of satire: cruel and yet, in the end, lacking the killing blow.

    New York Magazine (Vulture) Full Review
  • Anthony Lane

    In short, The Descendants is the latest exhibit in Payne's careful dissection of the beached male, which runs from Matthew Broderick's character in "Election" to Jack Nicholson's in "About Schmidt" and Paul Giamatti's in "Sideways."

    The New Yorker Full Review
  • Andrew O'Hehir

    The Descendants is gentle, witty, audience-friendly entertainment for grown-ups, with a great performance by one of our biggest screen stars. Full Review
  • Roger Moore

    The Descendants lets Payne show us the Other America and the Other Americans - little lives caught up in small but epic problems far away from the La La Land of Hollywood hype, sex and violence.

    Orlando Sentinel Full Review
  • Mick LaSalle

    The movie itself is a worthy thing, too, but it's not as good as Clooney is here, which is to say, it's not great.

    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
  • Noel Murray

    The movie suffers from backstory-heavy voiceover narration in its first half, followed by an excess of quirky laugh lines down the stretch, just when it seems to be finding a stronger rhythm. There's a shameless crowd-pleasing element to The Descendants that keeps its harder truths about family relationships at bay.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
  • Kimberley Jones

    The Descendants is beautifully shot (by Phedon Papamichael) and compellingly performed, especially by its young stars, and it has moments of startling tenderness. If only it didn't feel phony to its bones.

    Austin Chronicle Full Review
  • Rex Reed

    The Descendants is a soap opera with Hawaiian shirts.

    New York Observer Full Review
  • Stephanie Zacharek

    The Descendants is an ultra-polished picture in which every emotion we're supposed to feel has been cued up well in advance. There's nothing surprising or affecting about it. Not even Clooney, who works wonders with the occasional piece of dialogue, can save it.

    Movieline Full Review
  • Dana Stevens

    It's such a disappointment that The Descendants isn't a better movie than it is. In this soap opera disguised as a comedy, Payne, who was always a master at balancing sharp satire with an essential humanism, has traded his tart lemon center for a squishy marshmallow one.

    Slate Full Review
  • J.R. Jones

    Alexander Payne has won an Oscar for best adapted screenplay (Sideways), but you'd never guess that from this clumsily written drama: characters keep explaining things that their listeners would already know, and the first couple reels are so thick with expository voice-over that you may think you're listening to a museum tour on a set of headphones.

    Chicago Reader Full Review
  • J. Hoberman

    It left me cold. The pathos is as unearned as the protagonist's privilege.

    Village Voice Full Review
  • Richard Corliss

    I'm a notorious softie, and I found things to like about the film, most particularly Clooney's performance; but I remained untouched.

    Time Full Review
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  • 43. Rotten to the Core Performer: Dove Cameron, Cameron Boyce, Booboo Stewart & Sofia Carson Stream Music Online
  • 46. Set it Off Performer: Dove Cameron, Sofia Carson, Cameron Boyce, Booboo Stewart, Mitchell Hope, Sarah Jeffrey & Jeff Lewis Stream Music Online
  • 49. Be Our Guest Performer: Mitchell Hope, Spencer Lee, Kala Balch & Marco Marinangeli Stream Music Online
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