Critic Reviews

84

Metascore

Based on 43 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
100
Boxoffice Magazine
The Descendants is that rare bird, moving, enlightening, funny and unapologetically human. It's one of the year's best pictures, one to savor and think about.
100
After a five-year wait since "Sideways," Alexander Payne has made his best film yet with The Descendants. Ostensibly a study of loss and coping with a tragic situation, this wonderfully nuanced look at a father and two daughters dealing with the imminent death of his wife and their mother turns the miraculous trick of possibly being even funnier than it is moving.
100
Heartwarming, tragic and, at times, hilariously funny drama.
91
The Descendants constantly hovers on the brink of a dark comedy. But it never takes the big plug. By treading carefully, Payne has created his warmest, most earnest work, if not his best.
90
Nearly every detail sources directly back to Kaui Hart Hemmings' sensitively crafted novel, and yet, Payne's triumph is in striking the right tone -- and knowing what to leave unsaid.
88
Slant Magazine
In a development that seemed to begin in earnest with "Sideways," a large part of The Descendents seems to operate on a non-narrative level.
80
Salon.com
The Descendants is gentle, witty, audience-friendly entertainment for grown-ups, with a great performance by one of our biggest screen stars.
80
New York Magazine (Vulture)
Payne is too acerbic - maybe too much of an asshole - to settle for easy humanism. But he's too smart a dramatist to settle for easy derision. Mockery and empathy seesaw, the balance precarious - and thrillingly so. It's the noblest kind of satire: cruel and yet, in the end, lacking the killing blow.
80
In short, The Descendants is the latest exhibit in Payne's careful dissection of the beached male, which runs from Matthew Broderick's character in "Election" to Jack Nicholson's in "About Schmidt" and Paul Giamatti's in "Sideways."
50
I'm a notorious softie, and I found things to like about the film, most particularly Clooney's performance; but I remained untouched.

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