Wednesday, December 28, 2011

(:)(:)(:)(:) for the Descendants

Four enthusiastic snouts up for The Descendants in theaters everywhere.  I even toyed with awarding 5 snouts here, but the kids reminded me that as I reserve 5 snouts for movies where I come out saying, "that was the best movie I've ever seen" (I think the last time I said that was American Beauty), this wasn't quite at that level.  Still, a very very good movie that should be seen.

I'm a huge run-o-the-mill, People mag level George Clooney fan.  I love the stubble, the big brown eyes, the full tilt of his head, the voice, the politics, everything.  I am one of those rank and file movie goers who is more likely to identify the movie by its stars than its director or writers.  This movie is no exception even though the main reason many people probably saw it was its director (Alexander Payne: Sideways, About Schmidt, King of California) and even though who the director is has much more effect on whether a movie is good than who it stars.  Although having said that there are actors who are choosy enough about their vehicles, George Clooney and Meryl Streep come to mind, that the fact of their starring in it almost means it's a good film.  Contrast that to someone like Michael Cain who clearly is just an absolute whore and wants to work no matter what--sometimes it's a great film, sometimes it's absolute shite.

Beyond Clooney, I really did like the direction here.  This story could have been told with a much heavier hand--what a nightmare really.  A man's wife is in a coma only to find out that she __________ and with ___________ who is involved in _________________ (don't want to spoil the plot like so many other critics).  The Hawaii-ness is wonderful (and as a mainlander, I can say that it feels like they got that right, but whadoIno about that), the music, the beach, the sense of all these beach bums being greedy pigs and this one Honolulu out of touch lawyer in a suit being ultimately so loving and giving.

The movie is by turns funny, tragic, funny, funny, sad, sad.  They got the kids right too.  Shailene Woodley as Clooney's older daughter is a revelation--gorgeous, sassy--great writing which she lives up too--love to see more of her.

To get that 5th snout, I really would have to have wanted to own it and see it again and I don't.  Once was enough.  It's a small story that may or may not endure.

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