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Monday, November 7, 2011

The Descendants (2011)

After his wife (Patricia Hastie) is seriously injured in a boating accident, a business man (George Clooney) who had been ignoring both his wife and daughters (Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller) must deal with his dying wife and reconnecting to his daughters. The latest offering from Alexander Payne (SIDEWAYS) is a trumped up piece of offensive contrivance. Once the film gets its rhythm going, it's fairly predictable. Cheap laughs, tears, cheap laughs, tears, cheap laughs, tears and so on and so on until the film's tied in a warm and fuzzy ribbon conclusion so the audience can go home happy. One can practically hear the screenwriters at their table, "Oh my God, we have two cheap laughs in a row. Quick, somebody think of something sad we can stick in between the laughs!". One of the characters, a neanderthal played by Nick Krause, is so unrecognizable as an actual human being that he seems to have walked in from another movie. It's a pity because the cast is excellent, all at the top of their game. Clooney, no surprise, hits another home run and even if he gets the inevitable Oscar nomination, he rises above the material that you can't begrudge his nomination. Judy Greer as a cuckolded wife also is better than the material she's given. The film score consists of Hawaiian music, probably my least favorite music on the planet. Phedon Papamichael's (WALK THE LINE) cinematography does justice to the Hawaiian locations. With Beau Bridges, Matthew Lillard, Michael Ontkean and Robert Forster.

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