Feb 5, 2012

Highlights: 2011's Most Overrated Film... The Descendants.

Generally, I don't use the "overrated" distinction. Just because I don't like a film doesn't mean others shouldn't. I've talked about who and what I think is underrated often enough, but not the opposite. This time around, I'm allowing for an exception. Because for my money, except for brief moments in Shailene Woodley’s performance, and even briefer ones in George Clooney’s, The Descendants doesn’t really get anything right.

I’m not really sure what critics found between the redundant character of douchebag par excellence Sid, the implausible character arc of Woodley whose entire adolescent crisis is reduced to an about face after she jumps and cries in the pool, the obnoxious treatment of the film's defenceless antagonist, Judy Greer’s over-the-top anti-climactic visit to the hospital, the on and off narration, and worst of all, the ineffective incongruous Hawaiian melodies that reflect not mood (or atmosphere) but merely location. Whatever it was, I never found it. But the film’s success, sadly, did not end after the critics’ awards. The academy saw fit to nominate the film for five major awards (including freakin’ editing!) and will likely get George Clooney to the podium ahead of the infinitely more deserving Brad Pitt.

I’ve already forgotten about this film. I’ll re-watch Election whenever I need a Payne fix.

Previously on 11 Highlights of '11
Sex Scene of the Year
Most Underracted Actor of the Year
Dog of the Year
Best Andy Serkis of the Year


  1. Payne just got lazy, he knows critics will surrender to his male-centric stories about soul searching in "exotic" situations. Clooney sleepwalks through it and Woodley was expressive enough for me not to want to set the screen on fire when I watched. She almost fooled me into thinking things would get better at some point. This movie really sucked!

  2. I guess i liked it more than you guys. I agree it is nowhere in the vicinity of Payne's finest, but I still that it was a solid flick with occasional moments that remind you what Payne is capable of. I liken it to a home run hitter knocking out a solid single.

    I agree with you 100% on the use of the term "overrated". Rarely does its use not make me cringe a little, the way it suggests the user is the sole person in possession of the truth.

  3. Jose- Ditto, Every word.

    Michael - Well, I wouldn't grade this film a straight F, but I do think that if Payne hadn't directed it, no one would be paying this much attention. In other words, I was expecting more from a director of his stature. I'm a big fan of both Election and Sideways and this film had neither the comic wit, nor the dramatic weight of either of those.

  4. I really enjoyed The Descendants in the way that it wasn't over-the-top anything and it was a story about family, and brokenness. The performances were great- yes, Clooney too was really good- and had a great script. Yes, I'd say it's a little overrated, but I still really enjoyed it.

  5. Love this entry so much. It makes me feel like I'm not alone. The over use of profanity was unnecessary and there were several scenes that just left me questioning why people loved this movie so much. Why did Clooney's youngest daughter in the movie invite her random friend to see her dying mother? I also thought the random side characters they introduced were terrible actors too (the blonde man who crashed the boat, syd, the coma women's friends, the lady whos in charge of the residents at the university, etc).