Sunday, November 27, 2011

MOVIE REVIEW: The Descendants

Guest blogger Liz Parker is back from seeing the new movie "The Descendants".  Can any movie staring hunky George Clooney be bad?  Let's read what Liz thinks...

A good movie is one that makes you care about its characters, and The Descendants fulfills this on all counts. The performances by all of the actors are great, especially Clooney's and his daughters', and the Hawaii setting is gorgeous, even though the movie shows that living in paradise doesn't always equate to having a perfect life.

Matthew King (George Clooney, The Ides of March) is a lawyer who works a lot of hours, and he doesn't spend as much time with his wife and two daughters as he'd like. When his wife (newcomer Patricia Hastie) goes into a coma after a boating accident, Matt has to step up and become the "main parent" for 17-year-old Alexandra (Shailene Woodley, TV's The Secret Life of the American Teenager) and 10-year-old Scottie (newcomer Amara Miller). Alex, the more rebellious of the two, had been off at boarding school on one of the other Hawaiian island, and Matt and Scottie must retrieve her from school, since her mother doesn't have much time left. Once she is home, Alex tells Matt the reason she and her mother had been fighting recently, and its something that he might not have wanted to hear, as it will affect his relationship with his wife and his opinions of her.

The reason the film is called The Descendants is because Matt and his family are directly descended from Hawaiian royalty, and because of that, they have acres of "virgin Hawaiian land" that they are about to sell. Matt and his cousins are already well off, but this sale will make them even richer. They also have to sell the land, because the trust in which it was placed will run out in seven years. Matt and his family have a few buyers that want the land, and they must decide which of them will make the best use of it.

Yes, see this film, but be aware that parts of it are slow. The movie is almost two hours long, and some of it could have been cut or made shorter. In between these, however, you get a touching, sad "slice of life" film about a family that is going through a tough time, and you see how one person's choices can affect everyone in their family, even if that person can no longer be held accountable for them. The two actors who actually stole the show were Clooney and his younger daughter (Amara Miller), and I was shocked to find out that, according to IMDb, this was Miller's first film - she was pitch perfect, and there are a few of her scenes in which you might find yourself tearing up. The scenery is beautiful as well (if only we could all live in Hawaii!), and provides a nice backdrop to a story that isn't always as ideal as one would think life in Hawaii would be.

The Descendants is rated R with a runtime of 115 minutes, and is currently playing in theaters.

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Liz Parker is a 2009 graduate of the University of Michigan. She currently works as an Assistant Medical Editor for a pathology website. Visit her at her movie blog Yes/No Films
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