The Descendants Directed by: Alexander Payne Starring: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Robert Forster Rating: R Release Date: November 18, 2011
TRAILER SCORE: 9/10
Thoughts by TSR: Alexander Payne. George Clooney. Shailene Woodley? One of these things is not like the others. At least, that used to be the case. Now they have something in common: They all are integral parts of The Descendants, a film that looks like it could be one of the finest of the year.
I’ve come to expect high quality work from Oscar-winners Alexander Payne and George Clooney, so the one aspect of this trailer that really stands out is Shailene Woodley. I actually had to double and triple check before I could believe it was the same girl from the dreadful “Secret Life of the American Teenager” on ABC Family. Woodley makes an impression in her few moments and leaves me hungry to see more of what looks to be her breakout performance. That isn’t something I would have ever expected, but it’s just one more reason to be excited about Alexander Payne’s latest film.
Speaking of Payne, because he excels at perfecting the balance between comedic and dramatic moments, it comes as no surprise that he looks to have done it once again – this time with the help of co-writers Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (who plays Dean Pelton on “Community”). Sometimes when a film tries to play it both ways, the results can be jarring, especially in the short form of a trailer. Not the case here, as comedic moments such as Robert Forster punching Nick Krause in the face play just as well as more dramatic moments like Woodley and Clooney’s wonderful scene in the middle of the trailer (though even that plays darkly comedic).
Being Alexander Payne’s first feature since 2004’s Sideways, I was always going to be interested in this film – especially when you throw in a cast that includes Clooney, Robert Forster, and Judy Greer. The fact that Shailene Woodley looks to have completely exceeded my expectations is simply icing on the cake. I feel 2011 has been a rather strong year for film so far. With films like The Descendants still to come, it looks like it is going to finish strong as well.