The Descendants Movie Review

January 12, 2012

It has George Clooney in it. It’s getting huge Oscar buzz. Everyone is loving The Descendants. Except me…

Expectations are a terrible thing.

I thought I would love The Descendants. After all, Sideways is one of my favourite movies, and this is director Alexander Payne’s first movie since that love-it-or-hate-it buddy road trip flick.

And George Clooney is great. He does fantastic work, most recently in The Ides of March just months ago. I’m a fan. Even if he does look like a real dad here (complete with slip-on shoes) and not his usual stylish self.

But, The Descendants fell flat on me. The premise – an absent father forced to look after his two daughters after his wife suffers an accident – had so much promise. Especially (and I’m not giving away anything that isn’t in the trailer), when you throw in the discovery that the wife has been cheating on him. How does a man deal with all of this?

It may be a dramatic comedy, but the drama was weak and the laughs weren’t there. George running around looking for his wife’s lover felt slapstick and not heartbreaking. I found most of the characters unlikeable, especially the brattish daughters and the tag-along friend (was his character even necessary?). Clooney’s performance as the father, Matt King, is fine, if not bland.

I have to say, one of the final scenes completely broke me down. It’s extremely touching and well played, and almost redeemed the film for me. Plus it’s set in luscious Hawaii – it’s hard not to be swept away by the gorgeous cinematography, if not by the rest of the movie.

Have you seen The Descendants? What did you think?

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