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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: Feb 23: The Descendants


Feb 23: The Descendants

"A land baron tries to re-connect with his two daughters after his wife suffers a boating accident."

   The Descendants is one of the most talked about movies of the Oscar season. Critics are calling it one of the best films of last year and deserving of all the attention and the awards. I disagree on a lot of that. The film's only saving factors, in my opinion, are the tremendously good performances of George Clooney and Shailene Woodley, and the directing by Alexander Payne. Otherwise, it's honestly quite forgettable. The script is weak and the characters really go nowhere (just like the story). Sure, you can say that Clooney and his kids learn something over the course of a tragic week, but it's not on display for us to see and enjoy. Clooney's character is underdeveloped and how seemingly smart and insightful he is makes the fact that he doesn't know what's going on with his wife and kids all the more unbelievable. He has moments of stupidity and confusion that just doesn't match up well with the rest of his actions. But, even in the chaos that is his character, Clooney shines in his acting. He really is good in everything he does and continues to get better with age.

When he's 75, he will win everything. Even the Olympics. And the Super Bowl. 

   I've always judged movies that have more than one screenwriter as the stories don't quite mesh as well as the stories written by a single person. The Descendants is a clear example of this because three minds were involved in the writing of the script. It's almost as though they just simply took turns, with little cohesion on the story and just kind of chugged it along until they had enough material for a two hour film. It's not awful, by all means, it's just messy and really not emotional enough to warrant sympathy. I mean, the story is about a man coping with life after his wife enters a coma, and the emotions we should feel are just not earned. It's almost as though the film is an interruption of their lives, and we are simply an audience viewing in. 

Oh, and it's pretty. 

   Overall, The Descendants is just okay. If Clooney was missing, the film would be nothing but a nice little trip to Hawaii. I was hoping for so much concerning this film, as I had heard only great things but was sadly disappointed. So many better films this past year deserve the recognition (Warrior, Drive, Win, Win). Clooney is exceptional but his performance alone can't make The Descendants a terrific film. It's good, just not "WOW" and, although I recommend it, I would be hesitant when watching to avoid the disappointment I feel. 

The Good:
George Clooney
The Bad:
a messy script that should be so much better than it is
The Ugly:
the promise The Descendants would be so much more than it was

Overall: 6.9/10

Best Quote:
Matt King: 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. 

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