The Descendants | Chicago Reader

The Descendants

Alexander Payne won an Oscar for the screenplay of this clumsily written drama, in which characters keep explaining things that their listeners would already know, and the first couple reels are so thick with expository voice-over that you may think you're listening to a museum tour on a set of headphones. George Clooney stars as a wealthy heir in Honolulu who's forced to step up his parenting of his two young daughters after his wife suffers a speed boat accident that leaves her on life support (she can't hear anyone, the doctors explain, but that doesn't stop people from soliloquizing endlessly at her bedside). The story improves markedly after the Clooney character, having learned that his wife planned to leave him for another man, resolves to track the guy down and give him what for; as Payne demonstrated with Sideways and About Schmidt (2002), he knows how to milk a road trip for both comedy and dramatic revelation. With Judy Greer, Matthew Lillard, Beau Bridges, and Robert Forster.



  • Alexander Payne


  • George Clooney
  • Shailene Woodley
  • Amara Miller
  • Nick Krause
  • Patricia Hastie
  • Beau Bridges
  • Matthew Lillard
  • Judy Greer
  • Robert Forster


  • Jim Burke
  • Alexander Payne
  • Jim Taylor

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