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The Descendants (2011)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  9 December 2011 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 197,748 users   Metascore: 84/100
Reviews: 435 user | 543 critic | 43 from Metacritic.com

A land baron tries to reconnect with his two daughters after his wife is seriously injured in a boating accident.



(screenplay), (screenplay), 2 more credits »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 64 wins & 130 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Grace A. Cruz ...
Karen Kuioka Hironaga ...
Carmen Kaichi ...
Cousin Ralph
Matt Esecson ...
Cousin Hal
Cousin Milo
Stanton Johnston ...
Cousin Stan


Matt King's family has lived in Hawaii for generations. His extended family - namely he and his many cousins - own 25,000 acres of undeveloped land on Kauai held in trust, which ends in seven years. The easiest thing for the family to do is sell the land before the seven years is up, which is all the talk in the state, as, to whom they sell the property could very well change the face of Kauai. Despite the vast wealth that comes with the land, Matt has decided to live solely on what he earns as a Honolulu lawyer. However, Matt has not had a perfect life living in Hawaiian paradise as many believe. He and his wife Elizabeth were having problems in their marriage. She recently got into a boating accident which has placed her in a coma. Their seventeen year old daughter Alex is in boarding school on the big island since they couldn't handle her rebellion, which was made all the worse by an argument of an unknown nature between mother and daughter during Alex's last visit home. And their ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language including some sexual references | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:

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Release Date:

9 December 2011 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Los descendientes  »

Box Office


$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$7,345,720 (USA) (18 November 2011)


$82,624,961 (USA) (27 April 2012)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


When Matt King describes his inherited wealth, he says, "I don't want my daughters growing up entitled and spoiled. And I agree with my father; you give your children enough money to do something but not enough to do nothing." This is based on a well-known quote from billionaire investor Warren Buffett in a 1986 Fortune magazine interview. "Setting up his heirs with a lifetime supply of food stamps just because they came out of the right womb can be harmful for them and is an antisocial act. To him the perfect amount to leave children is 'enough money so that they would feel they could do anything, but not so much that they could do nothing.'" See more »


The resort models shown could not be built. Kaua'i's "coconut tree" building law states that new construction cannot be more than 4 stories tall. See more »


[first lines]
Matt King: My friends on the mainland think just because I live in Hawaii, I live in paradise. Like a permanent vacation. We're all just out here sipping Mai Tais, shaking our hips, and catching waves. Are they insane?
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Referenced in Honest Trailers: The Wolf of Wall Street (2014) See more »


Interlude with Ukelele
Written and Performed by George Kahumoku (as George Kahumoku, Jr.) and Richard Ford
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Competent all around, arguably a winning product for 2011
19 November 2011 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

I hadn't seen so many elderly folks in a movie theatre, since I saw The King's Speech last year. I suppose there is a bit of irony in considering that a film called the Descendants has an audience of ancestors.

The best thing about the movie however, is that I think it can be appreciated greatly by any adult age group, elder or not. There are laughs to be had and tears to be shed. The film centres around middle aged, Matt King; a Hawaiian land baron attempting to connect with his children with the knowledge that his comatose wife is at death's doorstep, and he knows that she had an affair before her accident. Meanwhile, he is under pressure from his network of cousins to sell his inherited land to the kind of real estate that wants to put up a seaside condo-mania.

In essence, it's a recovery story. The formula is not entirely 'new' yet the somewhat paradoxical balance of refinement and dry humour are enough to elevate this to a very well rounded story. As far as drama comedies go, The Descendants is ideal.

This may be George Clooney's best lead performance to date. I think it is the first role that doesn't require him to be slick or charismatic even for a moment. He is rather scruffy, but more importantly, he is human. Clooney brings range to the role, hitting all the right notes, funny and serious alike.

I like the fact that even though we are on Hawaii (a photographer's paradise) the island doesn't look all that special. It's important that The islands look just as mundane to the audience as it would to the characters who inhabitant it. Most of the time it's cloudy, and low brow, except for the few moments where it is necessary to bring out the sunshine, as we stand on a cliffs edge with the King family overlooking dozens of acres of land which could very soon become merchandise.

Another thing I like about the Descendents (which you don't see often) is an ending that is both happy and sad. Some say that great films are the ones that leave you wanting more. The Descendants did this to me, and it's probably the closest thing to a great film I've seen this year.

124 of 196 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Yet, another mislabeled movie windquake
Did anyone else think this was just plain terrible? Boing_Boing
Great movie if you're an adult lynfoster
Bad dialogue. Bad acting. Bad editing. Bad everything? kareldc2
Where are the Hawaiian people? jorgenson-s
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