Review of the Descendants
I stole this movie. I’m a 37-year old man sneaking into movie theaters. And I’m not ashamed. I was, however, terrified of getting caught. Some attendant kid walked into the theater about 20 minutes into the movie and my palms started sweating. He knew. There were only 7 of us in the theater and I was the only loser by myself. I thought if I just remained motionless that I’d have a better shot at going unnoticed. It’s important to note that it was a human attendant. Not a brown bear. He stood there for a minute, spoke into his shoulder (I assume there was a device there, not just the little attendant angel and devil), and left. I scooted over to sit with another couple just in case. But the cavalry never came. I guess the non-bear attendant just wanted to make sure there were no kids making out or videotaping or playing Words with Friends or anything.
As for the movie, it was mostly about a “back-up parent’s” relationship with his daughter when the mother gets a coma. Turns out she was cheating on him too. Before the coma thing, of course. If you like movies with awkward fathers trying to relate to teenage daughters, this is up your alley. Or if you just like to look at Hawaii or George Clooney for a few hours, ditto. The characters are three-dimensional (in the way they are written – not in the Avatar way) and the plot gives them a chance to span the gamut of emotions.
The plot gets going when George decides to try to find his wife’s (misteress? mister? cheatee?) and tell him that she’s in a coma. Turns out that dude is the guy from Without a Paddle. The one that’s not Dax Shepard or Seth Green. So be ready for that. I wasn’t. And he’s married to Judy Greer, whose name is cleverly disguised as Julie Speer in this movie. Really? That’s not a lot of effort, movie people. Also, the daughter was allowed to bring Jar Jar Binks on this mini-vacation for some reason in the form of a teenage stoner who also turned out to have some merit in the end without breaking his character, but only after annoying the hell out of this viewer for 90 minutes.
There was some business element to the movie that I couldn’t really follow. Something about selling land to build a golf course and that’s bad because the locals don’t want tourists. I guess we should all just live in our houses and not go anywhere. Is that what you want, Hawaii? Without this element, the movie was great. I cared about the emotions a husband has to deal with when a cheating wife dies and he’s suddenly in charge of raising his two daughters. But then the movie turned into a romantic “save the land” morality play that wasn’t fully developed. It took away from the closeness of the family. Thankfully, the end brought it back with a short dialogue-less scene in which the father and two daughters sit down on the couch, sharing some ice cream and watching March of the Penguins. That sums up the movie. It doesn’t try too hard to force the family dynamic into the story. Because it doesn’t need to. 7.5 bugs (out of 10)