… The Descendants
I wish more films were like The Descendants, because ordinary people are more interesting than vampires, and family dynamics are more exciting than explosions. I just wish The Descendants was also good. It isn’t; and the general hullabaloo over it has got to be the worst case of critical lemmingesquery since anybody had anything nice to say about Titanic.
It’s earnest enough, but it’s so flat it’s not even bad. If only it were bad! If only it got over its own fake good taste. If only, instead of a hole at the center where George Clooney’s character was supposed to be, there was somebody flawed and real.
Let’s bad taste it up, just for fun. What if the reason Dad wasn’t there for his nice family was that he had an affinity for crack and working girls. Maybe they lost the key to the handcuffs and a foulmouthed sass-fest played by Queen Latifah had to come along on the roadtrip he takes with his daughters.
“Um, Girls, this is Sheniqua, a friend from… the office.”
“Hey, lil ladies, I could get you work–mind you, the little one would have to lose some weight.”
“Okay, Sheniqua, shut your cakehole.”
“You shut yours, George Clooney!”
Instead, it’s all the wife’s fault and the poor thing can’t defend herself, her drooling mouth frozen coma-stiffer than than the dad’s on Strangers with Candy, yet still managing to be the most interesting person in the movie. But George gets to love her anyway and has an Oscar moment with a teardrop. And the girls (one experimenting with liquor! The other, bullying) get better once they sit down to watch March of the Penguins with father-knows-nothing.
Does Alexander Payne know any real people? He started off fine with Election, but has gotten worse with each movie as the critical bubble has expanded. Please pop it. Before he gives us Nicole Kidman as the nicest gal at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
There’s a subplot about land, taken from a Wonderful World of Disney hour. Somehow even Hawaii looks beige. Clooney gets to do the right thing–not selling out–surprise!–and even Beau Bridges’ eyebrows can’t work up a decent bit of rage. And those things usually look mad at his face.
Judy Greer is the only person in the movie who gets a big feeling, and it would be great–cause she generally is–if it wasn’t in this weird vacuum of a movie. Instead, it’s embarrassing.
The young actors fare better because we’re used to two-dimensional kids. At least they’ve got two! Poor George has only the one. He’s not that good of an actor even when he has a character. At least there’s no sign of his creepy “sly” smile, and that probably means they’ll give him an Oscar. See, it doesn’t take an accent, Meryl, or an astonishing physical transformation; you just have to be popular.
The Descendants is a comedy without a laugh, realism without realness, and a critical triumph that proves sometimes critics are without a lick of sense.
Also overrated, Melancholia and Mission Impossible 4: The Ghost Protocol–can it be true that this movie, like a Roger Moore-era James Bond flick without the killer song, interesting henchman or witty sex scene, has a rating in the 90s on metacritic? Please!