The Movie Waffler New Release Review - The Descendants | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - The Descendants

Directed by: Alexander Payne
Starring: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller, Robert Forster

Clooney is the only bright spark in this otherwise dull, charmless Golden Globe winner.
He plays a wealthy Hawaiian coping with pulling the plug on his coma-induced wife whilst raising two troublesome daughters. This is the kind of movie award voters seem to love but personally I hate these Wes Anderson style tales of "eccentric" upper class families. None of the characters in this are remotely likable and the central idea is handled in a painfully bland manner.
The movie opens with a voiceover from Clooney telling us how just because he lives in Hawaii his life is far from perfect. It's a horribly cheap piece of screenwriting and reminds me of those tacky signs you see in offices that read something along the lines of "You don't have to be crazy to work here but it helps". It takes someone who is devoid of personality themselves to hang such a sign and it takes a screenwriter who has no faith in his writing to open a movie in such a blunt way. His wife may be dying but his life is a hell of a lot better than the average persons.
Payne has proven himself well versed in the art of black comedy but here the humour feels really forced, relying on cliches like the precocious pre-teen, the stoner boyfriend and the cantankerous grandparent. Despite the heaviness of the scenario it lacks pathos due to the absence of warmth from the characters. Clooney is his usual affable self but the character calls for a much shlubbier actor, it's hard to buy the sub-plot of a wife cheating on a multi-millionaire with Clooney's looks.
You could be forgiven for mistaking this for a TV pilot, the characters are so shallowly presented you would presume the writers have another twenty episodes to develop them. The awful use of grating Hawaiian music is reminiscent of a show like "Seventh Heaven".
We all know the Oscars have become an absolute joke and if this sweeps the awards it will most definitely confirm that view.