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The Descendants (2011)

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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 »
2,092 ( 337)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 66 wins & 140 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Grace A. Cruz ...
Kim Gennaula ...
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 »


After Julie has left the hospital room and Matt is looking at Elizabeth, her right hand is away from her left. In the next shot, from behind Elizabeth, her right hand is turned closer to her left, even though she can't move her hands. 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 Maltin on Movies: Awards Special 2012 (2012) See more »


Written and Performed by Ray Kane
Courtesy of Cord International-Hana Ola Records
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Payne knows exactly what he's doing, and what he's doing is tremendous.
18 January 2012 | by See all my reviews

Alexander Payne hasn't made a film from the director's chair since his incredible Sideways back in 2004. Seven years later, he finally returns, and with The Descendants, he returns with a bang.

Like Sideways, his screenplay (co-written by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash) nails the tone right on the head. It has to balance out three tricky narratives in the film (Matt King's self-crisis, his comatose wife's affair with another man before her boating accident, and a land deal he's reported to make), and without the proper guidance it needed, along with Payne's own confidant direction, it could have faltered. Thankfully, it balances out heavy themes and complicated emotions in uncommon detail.

The characters in this movie are many, complicated, and sorrowful in their own unique ways. Matt King was a perfect role for George Clooney. He keeps his composure, but we can still see a very heavy, filtered sorrow beneath the surface. Shailene Woodley's character (Woodley, by the way, gives one of the year's best performances) begins with a rebellious, even angry sadness, but we can see her develop over the course of the film, gaining a strong maturity beyond her years. Judy Greer and Robert Forster are each given a few spare scenes, and they make every second of their screen time count.

It really is an emotional ride, even depressing sometimes, but I'm surprised by the occasional review I read where critics say they didn't feel the emotion to be sincere. In my opinion, the emotions of the film never hit a single false note. I don't think just anybody could have made this movie the way it is. This isn't a typical drama, the movie's genre is Payne, and he knows exactly what he's doing.

***1/2 out of ****

69 of 106 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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