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
Kaui Hart Hemmings: Matt's assistant, Noe, who announces "Your cousins are here" when Matt is prepares to meet with his relatives at his law office. See more »
The credits thank Oahu County, which does not exist. The island of Oahu is in Honolulu County. See more »
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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It feels good but really doesn't say or do anything terribly new or special
The Descendants (2011)
Wow, lots of great sharp close-ups of George Clooney. And a wonderful place to set a movie, contemporary Hawaii, not just the surf and nature scene, but the reality, too, of family and people interacting casually.
There's a forced plot here, a do good situation where some precious Hawaiian land is in danger of being developed, and you know almost from the first minute it's mentioned what the outcome will be. There's a second plot, too, which is more intense, having to do with an affair that gets uncovered and Clooney's sense of discovery and retribution for it.
But what is supposed to be the main point of the movie, in terms of emotional intensity at least, is the trickiest and maybe the thinnest: Clooney's wife is in a coma and is set to have her life support unplugged and then shortly die. His two daughters are supposed to be mischief makers of the worst sort (unconvincingly) and the drama of the oncoming death and the affair discovered during the midst of it all makes the father and daughters reconsider each other.
Sounds good but it only goes so far. Which is to say it's not a bad movie at all, just nothing that rises above. The one mention during, say, Academy Awards month was that Clooney's performance was standout. And it was, though not any more than other Clooney performances, restrained and consummately professional the same way Tom Hanks is. Which is often just a hair short of the breathtaking stuff others pull off at their best.
The best part of the movie is probably just the relative accuracy of the local Hawaiian culture, relaxed and appreciative but also caught up in the usual material and family concerns of any other U.S. locale.
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