“Paradises Is Just Myth.”
“So, What's The Problem Here?”
“A Marvelous Character Study...”
“Matt King Is Dealt The Blow That His Dying Wife Had Been Cheating On Him Before Her Accident, And His Teenage Daughter Is Left To Pick Up The Pieces Of A Relationship That Has Been Shattered Because Of Said Events.”
“In Hindsight This Movie Begs For Multiple Viewing, With The Narrative And Emotions That Follow Watching This Being So Strong, It Is Easy To Say That 'The Descendants' Should Be Viewed More Than Once.”
“The Descendants Is A 2011 Dramedy That Is As Unchallenging As It Is Unrewarding, Playing More To The Tune Of Monotone Than Masterpiece.”
“The Descendants Beautifully Sets-up Captivating Characters The Audience Can Connect With Through An Emotional Time In Their Lives. The Characters Will Stay With You In Your Heart Long After The Film Ends And For That... It Deserves A Round Of Applause.”
“A Family Drama Whose Distinction Comes From Its Subtleties And Nuances.”
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
This sweet, sad new film from Alexander Payne holds a promise of gentleness that is fulfilled, and a promise of complexity that isn't.
Peter Bradshaw - Guardian [UK]
A drama of unusual nuance. It lingers, spawns thoughts, connections, as a great film ought.
Catherine Shoard - Guardian [UK]
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
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.
David Edelstein - New York Magazine
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
The Descendants" tackles some of the prickliest issues a contempo family can face with such sensitivity that it's hardly noticeable you're being enlightened while entertained.
Peter Debruge - Variety
There's not a wasted moment or a misstep in a film that skillfully weaves its two story lines into a twin climax that's somehow both inevitable and surprising, as well as thoroughly satisfying.
Lou Lumenick - New York Post
It's a lovely, heartfelt character study of common, everyday people trapped on the horns of an uncommon but not unheard-of dilemma.
Roger Moore - Orlando Sentinel
This is stealth comedy, richly delivered, and the rising Oscar buzz around it is deserved.
Peter Howell - Toronto Star
This mature, well-acted dramatic comedy is deeply satisfying, maybe even cathartic.
Eric D. Snider - Film.com
The challenge in describing the film is that it doesn't neatly fit into any pigeonhole. It's a serious movie that happens to have a sense of humor, because Payne and his collaborators see the absurdity in everyday existence.
Leonard Maltin - indieWIRE
Payne has always tended to look at society from the perspective of a curious, puzzled alien, but now the alien has grown moist-eyed and affectionate.
Liam Lacey - Globe and Mail
Clooney and the elder daughter (Shailene Woodley) give Oscar-worthy performances in this hard-knocks film that will have you laughing one moment and sobbing the next.
Gayle MacDonald - Globe and Mail
Begins as a rambling tale about an inept father wrestling with tragedy and gradually builds toward a satisfying emotional payoff.
Andrew O'Hehir - Salon.com
It's such a disappointment that The Descendants -- Alexander Payne's first film after a seven-year hiatus following Sideways -- isn't a better movie than it is.
Dana Stevens - Slate
The Descendants may be director Alexander Payne's finest outing to date.
James Berardinelli - ReelViews
A splendid comedy-drama about a father coping with his comatose wife and difficult daughters represents high points for George Clooney and Alexander Payne.
Todd McCarthy - Hollywood Reporter
The story keeps you guessing as to where it will go, and it features some piercing moments of emotional truth.
Christy Lemire - Associated Press
I'm a notorious softie, and I found things to like about the film, most particularly Clooney's performance; but I remained untouched.
Richard Corliss - TIME Magazine
The Descendants is damn near perfect. Director Alexander Payne is a master of the human comedy and George Clooney has never exposed himself to the camera this openly.
Peter Travers - Rolling Stone
"The Descendants" is one of the stranger and yet one of the more effective weepers in recent years.
Richard Roeper - Richard Roeper.com
A tragedy infused with comedy [that] calls for a balancing act from filmmaker and star alike, a tightrope they navigate with nary a wobble.
Betsy Sharkey - Los Angeles Times
A beautifully touching, tragic and amusing follow-up film from the director of Sideways.
Tom Glasson - Concrete Playground
The Descendants manages to even surpass those stratospheric expectations most fans will have walking into the theatre.
Kristal Cooper - We Got This Covered
Like "Sideways" and "About Schmidt," "The Descendants" lets Alexander 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.
Roger Moore - McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Each year there are usually one or two films that don't deserve all of the insane praise they get (last year's The Fighter is a prime example) and it looks like "The Descendants" is one for this year.
Jeff Beck - Examiner.com
Understandable when dealing with Payne's typically directionless protagonists, The Descendants occasionally feels like it is unsure of where it's going, yet it still always ambles along at a pleasant pace regardless.
Matt Looker - TheShiznit.co.uk
A thoroughly rewarding assembled-for-adults dramedy that benefits immensely from both its island locale and one of George Clooney's finest performances.
Erick Weber - NECN
- Sight and Sound
The Descendants is a devastating and rewarding emotional journey.
Blake Howard - 2UE That Movie Show
Will keep you soaked in its melancholy until the very end...
Felix Vasquez Jr. - Cinema Crazed
Sort of like a shotgun marriage between Jimmy Buffett and Harry Chapin.
Rob Gonsalves - eFilmCritic.com