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Oscar®Oscar® Winner for Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Nominee for Best Picture, Directing, Actor in a leading role, and Film Editing
Movie Review

The Descendants

MPAA Rating: R for language including some sexual references.

Reviewed by: Steve Warburton

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens
Drama Comedy Adaptation
1 hr. 55 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
November 16, 2011 (limited—29 theaters), then widening through Nov. and Dec.
DVD: March 13, 2012
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures

modern secular family living with the inevitable results of sin, lack of true love, and lack of a strong moral compass

personal responsibilities and duties

deciding what is important in life


an indifferent husband and father (emotionally distant)

seriously flawed wife with hedonistic lifestyle

neglected daughters and the damage done from years of distance

becoming a better father

adulterous spouse

exploiting others for personal gain

severe accidental injury

deciding whether to “pull the plug” on a mate in irreversible coma

a living will


alcoholism / drunkenness

durg addiction / cocaine abuse / substance abuse

extreme behavior

bullying by young people

teenage sexuality and fornication

PURITY—Should I save sex for marriage? Answer

Are we living in a moral Stone Age? Answer

Teen Qs—Christian Answers for teenagers
Teens—Have questions? Find answers in our popular TeenQs section. Get answers to your questions about life, dating and much more.
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Parenting and family Q&As
Featuring: George ClooneyMatt King
Judy Greer
Matthew Lillard … Brian
Shailene WoodleyAlexandra
Beau BridgesCousin Hugh
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Director: Alexander Payne—‘Sideways
Producer: Ad Hominem Enterprises
Jim Burke … producer
more »
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures

I doubt that the makers of “The Descendants” intended this movie to be a commentary on adultery, but that’s the way I saw it.

George Clooney plays a wealthy businessman whose wife is in a coma after a boating accident. Later, his estranged daughter tells him that Mom was having an affair. Much of the movie deals with Clooney tracking down his wife’s lover. They meet, but I shouldn’t say much else, lest I spoil it for you.

Watching the movie made me think about what an immense responsibility marriage and fatherhood is. Clooney’s character has two daughters, one who became an alcoholic and one who is becoming more and more antisocial. The wife was unable to find satisfaction with him and so sought comfort in the arms of another man. The reason, from what I can tell, is the dude found his family more of a distraction. His real god was work.

Anyway, “The Descendants” is a marvelous movie, in my opinion. It’s well written, has incredible acting, and a powerful stance on greed vs. Tradition. Clooney turns in one of the best performances of his career.

There’s vulgar language and some profanity, but you were probably expecting that—f-words (2 dozen), GD (6), OMG (3), plus “for Chr_st’s sakes” and “for G_d’s sakes.”

Violence: Mild / Profanity: Heavy / Sex scenes: None (except a kiss), but there is vulgar sexual language and references / Nudity: Moderate (beach scenes, cleavage, and brief scene about porn on pay-per-view hotel TV)

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—I was amazed by the sensitivity and texture of the screenplay that presents this story about a beleaguered father whose family life changes. George Clooney’s performance is superb. All the acting is excellent. I personally enjoyed the setting of Hawaii and the Hawaiian music playing throughout the film. The array of themes so intelligently interwoven and developed sets this movie far apart from Hollywood blockbuster films.

There is some bad language and bad behavior by young people, but these elements are set within a storyline that explains the offensive elements. This is a serious movie about domestic problems.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Halyna Barannik, age 65 (USA)
Positive—I liked the movie, but have a great guilt sometimes when I hear several swears or hard family scenes. I am a christian. How do you handle these issues personally, do you pray these things away or what? P.S., I know today all movies have something, more or less.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Michael S. Michalak, age 59 (USA)
Positive—How do you tell the story of a dysfunctional story without showing the devastating results from said dysfunction? Last night, my wife and I went to see this Oscar contender for our date night, and we totally loved the movie—the story, the cinematography, the music, everything about it. This morning, as I was preparing to write this up and draw some possible lessons from it, to post on my blog…, I read the review on this Web site and felt that I had to respond. The story is about a dysfunctional family and how they heal after a tragedy. With any good narrative of this sort there is the requisite depiction of the nature of the dysfunction before the process of healing can begin. Any of these can touch nerves and may even grate on the sensitivities of some of those in the audience, but this is important to [the] plot and point of the story, itself. You cannot have healing, if there has been no illness. You cannot have true victory if there is no challenge.
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My Ratings: Moral rating: / Moviemaking quality: 5
—John, age 55 (USA)
Neutral—I would have liked this movie a lot better if it wasn’t for the f-words. Even as it was, I still found it much more interesting than a couple of the other Oscar® nominees this year (namely the ones starring Brad Pitt)… though it was a far cry from being my favorite one. I did like that it showed the truly devastating effects of an extramarital affair.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Kadie Jo, age 19 (USA)
Neutral—…there was a reference to a “retarded” person that was very offensive that was completely unnecessary, and they should have taken that out. If I had a person in my family that was mentally delayed, I would have walked out. I found the character development and acting to be very good. It was rated R for a reason… nasty language by the young daughter and infidelity. But it does have a purpose, and that is to showing this man who in the beginning is focused on his job and his money and the movie takes him through learning to be a dad. And going through the grieving process, which everyone does in their own way. I found the movie to be too sad and too real with today’s society. It was too depressing.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Bethany, age 40 (USA)
Negative—I found this film to be very offensive. The fact that the main character has kids that “hold him hostage”—cursing in front of him, cursing at him, talking about all manner of inappropriate subjects—is not my idea of a fun movie. Unfortunately, this type of behavior is becoming the norm in many dysfunctional families. Also, hearing a little girl speak of “porn” and “masturbation movies” makes me sad. Sorry, but Mr. Clooney really let me down this time.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Reba, age 40+ (USA)
Negative—Wow. I have no idea why this movie has so much acclaim. While it centers around a wife’s affair, it shows the harm that adultery causes a family. The older daughter is the best actor in the show, but the character is a total potty-mouth. The cursing was terrible. Clooney is a very good actor, and he plays this part well, but no better than many others in his career.

The occasional Hawaiian music that was used in the background was totally irritating. Except for a few scenes, you didn’t get much exposure to the beauty of the islands. From a Biblical world view, it was pro-monogamy and didn’t in anyway support adultery. Spiritual things are never discussed. The movie brings with it a lot of pain of watching someone die, as well. My wife and I were both disappointed.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Joe, age 63 (USA)
Negative—I was disappointed in this movie. Not sure what all the hype is about. I felt like I did when I went to see “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” which Clooney did the main character voice. The annoying music in the background was ridiculous. The acting was done well, it’s just a very slow moving, dull movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Paul D Golden, age 57 (USA)
Negative—I have no idea why this movie ratings are high and that Christians would give it anything but a rating of ONE! The movie has no meaningful story line. This movie is a total waste of time. George continues to prove his career is over. Please save your money. This is in the class of Whale Rider. It is an insult to an intelligent movie goer. Okay, the scenes in Hawaii are beautiful, but look at pictures on the Internet, you will have a more enjoyable evening.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—John, age 53 (USA)

Sorry, no other viewer comments received yet. If you have seen this movie, PLEASE share your observations and insights with others to be posted here. GO