Thursday, March 15, 2012
'The Descendants': A solid but underwhelming buffet
I put off this film for maybe too long.
Before the Oscars, the buzz and the word of mouth, "The Descendants" may have been a bittersweet and rich story of Matt King (Clooney), a wealthy husband with a wife slipping toward the grave and two daughters; one estranged and one just strange. King has to deal with possible infidelity, his wife's mortality, his eldest daughter's daft boyfriend (nicknamed by a friend of mine as "Lil Kelso") and a surprisingly personal business deal.
Objectively, the film is nearly the definition of hit and miss. While each subplot is interesting, there seems to be so much involved that you don't get enough of anything. The business deal subplot seems a great personal story of heritage; the wife and infidelity seems like a perfect setup for a dark comedy; the story of a man learning to handle his daughters alone plays out like a great road trip movie.
But much like a buffet, nothing is specialized. Everything is available, but nothing is served to the viewer in a special manner.
As stated,however, since the movie received such high praise, I went in expecting a bit more from a film which gathered such high acclaim. Yes, Clooney's performance was good.
But otherwise, nothing crept out as an award-worthy element. Sadly, one of the most surprising and praise-worthy roles is by Matthew Lillard (yes, Matthew Lillard!) who plays a rather critical role and handles it in a cringing and engaging maturity.
"The Descendants" is definitely a movie worth seeing. Just do your best not to expect a monumental film.