George Clooney plays the part of an attorney who is in charge of a family trust which owns a really big, valuable piece of land in Hawaii. While not originally from Hawaii, his family has been there for 150+ years and doing well. He has two daughters, ages 12 and 17.
His somewhat estranged wife, who he has no time for, is in a boating accident and lies comatose with limited time to live. Controversy rises about her life/death choices and responsible husband decisions. Meanwhile, all the cousins anxiously await GC’s decision to sell the land so they can share the millions and millions. Add to this scenario that the comatose wife was having an affair before her untimely accident and you have The Descendents.
While full of good performances, what you’ve got here is a soap opera in a lush setting. The teenage daughter has a boyfriend. He causes issues on many levels. There is humor from time to time, but mostly provided by the generation gap and the difference in communication skills between the teenagers and the forty-something adults. Not enough humor to keep away the ennui the story engenders as it works its way slowly to the two hour mark when the main issues can be resolved and the family can move on.
The scenery on Oahu and Kauai literally steal the scenes whenever it is in view. Vet actor Robert Forster turns up as Grandpa. The guy who had the affair with the wife, who has no lines, looks a lot like Shaggy in the Scooby Doo stories. Wait. It’s actually the actor who plays Shaggy in the Scooby Doo movies. While touted as a big Oscar contender with limited openings last November, this film is just making it’s way into enough theaters where actual people like you and me can see it. A large cup of Starbucks Double Espresso would be a good idea if you go. Aloha.
Rated 2.5 out of 4.0 Guiding Lights.