The Descendants Poster

The Descendants (2011)

The Descendants Reviews

  • Another beautifully chiseled piece of filmmaking - sharp, funny, generous, and moving - that writes its own rules as much as About Schmidt or Sideways did.

    Owen Gleiberman — Entertainment Weekly

  • 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.

    A.O. Scott — New York Times

  • As directed by Alexander Payne, the film moves seamlessly from wry humor to heartbreaking sadness and takes clever deviations from the expected.

    Claudia Puig — USA Today

  • A tough, tender, observant, exquisitely nuanced portrait of mixed emotions at their most confounding and profound -- all at play within a deliciously damp, un-touristy Hawaii that's at once lush and lovely to look at.

    Ann Hornaday — Washington Post

  • 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.

    Ty Burr — Boston Globe

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

    J. Hoberman — Village Voice

  • 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.

    Joe Neumaier — New York Daily News

  • After his last feature, Mr. Payne was compared by some to Billy Wilder for his wit, and by others to Jean Renoir for his humanity. After this one I'd compare him to the man who made "Sideways." It's the highest praise I know.

    Joe Morgenstern — Wall Street Journal

  • Alexander Payne has been gone so long, it's easy to forget just how good he is. With The Descendants, the director's first feature since 2004's Sideways, he reminds us what we've been missing.

    Chris Vognar — Dallas Morning News

  • [Clooney] is a movie star who can't shake (and doesn't want to, one suspects) the baggage of that good fortune, yet consistently works to blend into the ensemble for the sake of story. The Descendants gives us his most emotional work to date.

    Lisa Kennedy — Denver Post

  • It works like a charm...to the extent that one's critic self wants to resist the urge to break down why it's working.

    Glenn Kenny — MSN Movies

  • 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."

    Anthony Lane — New Yorker

  • We get vested in the lives of these characters. That's rare in a lot of movies. We come to understand how they think and care about what they decide.

    Roger Ebert — Chicago Sun-Times

  • It's lovely - funny and sad and funny/sad in ways you can't always pinpoint, capturing both the perpetual Pacific island breezes and the unsettled interior lives of Hemmings' characters, chief among them the attorney played by George Clooney.

    Michael Phillips — Chicago Tribune

  • Alexander Payne has won an Oscar for best adapted screenplay, but you'd never guess that from this clumsily written drama.

    J. R. Jones — Chicago Reader

  • Payne introduces a circle of friends and family, and shows us the connections, and conflicts, in play. And he makes it all feel lived-in, real.

    Steven Rea — Philadelphia Inquirer

  • Clooney offers an assured, multidimensional performance, nailing both the deathbed remorse and the physical comedy.

    Colin Covert — Minneapolis Star Tribune

  • One of the year's best films, a bubbly meditation on family and responsibility that weighs just enough to matter.

    Tom Long — Detroit News

  • With so many balls in the air the temptation is to rush from one plot strand to another, but Payne takes the opposite approach. He also captures the complexity of emotional reactions that grief stirs.

    Bill Goodykoontz — Arizona Republic

  • It's worth seeing for the sharp but uneven human observations in the script and direction by Alexander Payne (Sideways), and sometimes it's fun (but mostly exasperating) watching George Clooney trying to act as he struggles through...

    Rex Reed — New York Observer

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