The Descendants (2011)

So just the other day I was reading Front Room Cinema’s quest to find the best movies of the past 10 years, and 2004’s pick was Sideways. Not sure if I agree 100% but I do think Sideways was one of the coolest comedies I had seen and I actually think I appreciate that movie now more than I did back then. That being said, I was not surprised when I finished watching The Descendants and my love for it seemed endless – Alexander Payne had come back with guns blazing and is easily becoming one of my favorite comedy writer (adapters)/directors out there.

Without trying to give out the summary of the movie, which is something I actually hate because IMDb does a much better job at it, and extra summarizing seems unnecessary, I do want to point out something that bothers me. The Descendants has a 7.5 while The Hangover has 7.8! What gives me hope, is that Metacritic and Metascore have higher rates for George Clooney because I would never put Bradley Cooper’s comedy in front of this one. Reason is quite simple, I appreciate the dirty jokes like any other but I see no charm behind it. The Descendants has charm, smarts and it is more about acting out the hilarious than delivering punch lines (with the exception of Zach who’s body language screams humor). But then again, that is just my personal opinion and taste.

Some bits and bobs I really enjoyed in this movie had to do with George Clooney’s character Matt. Everything from the shirts, which added so much to the style of the movie, to the wonky run in flip-flops created comedy quality without making it cheesy and awkward. It made me laugh without causing me to be embarrassed which is something that the Hangovers and Bridesmaids tend to do – with those movies I just want to die of shame and I can’t see how that is ever funny more than once or even that. The Descendants offers life like situations which you see relating to in a manner of having integrity. I like how Scott from FRC called Sideways a smart comedy – I really think that it is also the best way to describe Payne’s work in general, including The Descendants.

Maybe it’s because I remember The Descendants more or just my personal taste, but I did think Sideways is less memorable. Probably because I would rather remember Clooney than Giamatti but I wouldn’t see the movies happening with any other actors in both cases, so I can’t really argue based on that. But this is besides the point I wanted to make, which in general just gives a lot of praise to The Descendants because I genuinely liked it – like a lot! And not just because of Clooney, Shailene Woodley held on to her own and shined as bright as the leading man. Actually, both characters needed a lot of emotion and I think the long list of awards they all received with this made complete sense when it comes to 2011. (Which again reminds me that Drive, which I apparently haven’t reviewed???, was left out of the 2011 award season in an illegal manner – seriously, what was that ONE Oscar nomination all about? Outrageous.)

Talking about Clooney and Gosling, one person (and I mean me) has to watch The Ides of March soon because apparently I have missed out on so many 2011 big movies that it is not even understandable why I’m writing a movie blog. Though, to my defense, I’m at least motivated to watch them now while I patiently wait to see Looper! Yes, I still haven’t seen it and it is making me all sad and teary inside and out. Maybe a little descendants would make me feel better because honestly, laughing through situations that have emerged from dramatic events is probably the best way to spend your Friday evening alone with a beer or two. It’s just that good and uplifting in a sarcastic and ironic way – especially the scene where Matt delivers the news to the guy adding “Fuck you!” Hands down, the best way to say those words to somebody you hate, perfection.

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8 thoughts on “The Descendants (2011)”

  1. Great review though I really disliked the movie. I didn’t connect with any of the characters and I found the movie to be boring and not funny at all, apart from the “Fuck you” scene you mentioned 🙂 The Ides of March…..now that one was amazing! ^^

    1. As far as I know, Sideways was also something a lot of people didn’t like. I guess it does come down to preferences and I just prefer this kind of humor.
      And I promise, I’ll get to The Idles of March soon!

  2. Clooney and everybody else included is great but it’s really Payne who shines as the writer bringing out some funny humor but not without forgetting about the real rich moments of human drama. Good review, as usual. A good film but not as great as I was expecting.

    1. After watching Looper I have no idea like.. Yeah, I agree that Payne shined but all I can think about at the moment is Looper. Sorry. Hopefully I can do the Looper justice with a great review as well.

  3. I loved this movie and it will end up high in my best of year list (it came out over here this year). I’m not a fan of Sideways, but this movie had me hooked. I even rewatched it not too soon after and that’s something I rarely do.

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