The Descendants (2011)

R | 115 mins | Comedy-drama | 16 November 2011

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HISTORY

In an 18 Nov 2011 HR article about the making of the film, Jay Fernandez writes that the project began in 2007 when two London-based agents gave galley proofs of the novel to producer Jim Burke. Pamela McClintock and Peter Gilstrap announced in DV on 16 May 2007 that Fox Searchlight had bought the film rights to Kaui Hart Hemmings’ novel for Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor to produce through their company Ad Hominem under a three-year first-look deal between Ad Hominem and Searchlight.
       Because Payne was writing a screenplay for a film to be titled Downsizing , Jay Fernandez reported, Burke hired writers Jim Rash and Nat Faxon to adapt the novel. A 2 Sep 2009 article in DV indicated that director Stephen Frears had been “circling” The Descendants as a potential project before committing to do British film Tamara Drewe (2010). Payne later set Downsizing aside, and “by July 2009, he was working on his own adaptation." Although he was involved with the project as a producer, fellow producer Jim Burke disclosed that it was not certain that Payne would direct. In a 9 Dec 2011 DV interview, Burke stated that, “The biggest challenge was to get Alexander Payne to direct it. It’s not that easy. It had been a while [since his previous film as a director, Sideways (2004, see entry)], and he’s extraordinarily particular, as he should be.”
       In his HR piece, Jay Fernandez noted that the film was budgeted at $20 million, and scheduled for ... More Less

In an 18 Nov 2011 HR article about the making of the film, Jay Fernandez writes that the project began in 2007 when two London-based agents gave galley proofs of the novel to producer Jim Burke. Pamela McClintock and Peter Gilstrap announced in DV on 16 May 2007 that Fox Searchlight had bought the film rights to Kaui Hart Hemmings’ novel for Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor to produce through their company Ad Hominem under a three-year first-look deal between Ad Hominem and Searchlight.
       Because Payne was writing a screenplay for a film to be titled Downsizing , Jay Fernandez reported, Burke hired writers Jim Rash and Nat Faxon to adapt the novel. A 2 Sep 2009 article in DV indicated that director Stephen Frears had been “circling” The Descendants as a potential project before committing to do British film Tamara Drewe (2010). Payne later set Downsizing aside, and “by July 2009, he was working on his own adaptation." Although he was involved with the project as a producer, fellow producer Jim Burke disclosed that it was not certain that Payne would direct. In a 9 Dec 2011 DV interview, Burke stated that, “The biggest challenge was to get Alexander Payne to direct it. It’s not that easy. It had been a while [since his previous film as a director, Sideways (2004, see entry)], and he’s extraordinarily particular, as he should be.”
       In his HR piece, Jay Fernandez noted that the film was budgeted at $20 million, and scheduled for a ten week shoot on the islands of Oahu and Kauai. Actresses Shailene Woodley and Amara Miller, who play the daughters in the film, flew to Oahu ten days in advance of the shoot so they could "develop a believable family dynamic with Clooney."
       In a 29 Nov 2011 LAT article about the music for the film, writer Steve Hochman revealed that music supervisor Dondi Bastone listened to “mountains of music” to find appropriate compositions for the fim and that musicologist, University of Hawaii ethnomusicology professor, Jay Junker, tutored Payne on the nuances of Hawaiian music, trying to discourage Payne “. . .from using, say a Big Island song over a scene [shot on the island of] Oahu,” although Payne admitted he opted for “feeling, rhythm and emotion" over source-setting considerations.
       A Monday, 21 Nov 2011, LAT article by Amy Kaufman noted that the film opened in 29 theaters over the past weekend, starting Friday, and grossed $1.2 million for a $42,150.00 per-screen average. The piece also noted that the film had opened in five theaters the previous Wednesday in order to generate word-of-mouth, and as a result the total gross to date was $1.3 million. The article further stated that the film was scheduled to expand to 425 screens on Wednesday, 23 Nov, 2011.
       AFI named The Descendants one of its top ten movies of the year. The film was nominated for Academy Awards in the following categories: Best Picture; Best Actor in a Leading Role [George Clooney]; Best Directing [Andrew Payne]; Best Film Editing [Kevin Tent]; and Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay) [Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon & Jim Rash]. The film received Golden Globe Awards for: Best Picture (Drama) and Best Actor (Drama) [George Clooney].
       Filmmakers thank the following organizations and individuals in the end credits: State of Hawaii and the Hawaii Film Office; County of Oahu and the Oahu Film Commission; County of Kauai and the Kauai Film Commission; County of Hawaii and the Big Island Film Commission; Hawaii Airlines; Dollar Rent A Car; Sheraton Waikiki Hotel; Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas; The St. Regis Princeville Resort; Tory Richards Clothing; Trustees of the Estate of Bernice Pauahi Bishop; Julia Porter Steele; Gavan Daws; Andy Lautenbach; John and Carri Morgan, and Randall Roth. End credits also contain the following statement: "Filmed on location on O'ahu, Kaua'i and Hawai'i with the assistance of Hawaiian Production Tax Credits." The following credits acknowledge other works used in the film: " March of the Penguins by Luc Jaquet, copyright 2005 Bonne Pioche Production/APC/Warner Independent; Footage from Dog the Bounty Hunter courtesy of A&E; Images from Better Orgasms for Women courtesy of Lifetime Productions International Ltd." More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
16 May 2007.
---
Daily Variety
2 Sep 2009.
---
Daily Variety
6 Sep 2011
p. 5, 14.
Daily Variety
9 Dec 2011.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Nov 2011
pp. 51-53.
Los Angeles Times
16 Nov 2011.
---
Los Angeles Times
21 Nov 2011.
---
Los Angeles Times
29 Nov 2011
p. D3.
New York Times
16 Nov 2011
p. 1.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
Unit prod mgr
Asst prod mgr
1st asst dir
1st asst dir, 2d unit
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Prod
Co-prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Scr
Scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog, 2d unit
1st asst A cam
1st asst A cam
2d asst A cam
1st asst B cam
2d asst B cam
1st asst cam, 2d unit
1st asst cam, 2d unit
2d asst cam, 2d unit
2d asst cam, 2d unit
Loader
Cam prod asst
Gaffer
Gaffer
Best boy elec
Rigging elec gaffer
Best boy rigging elec
Rigging elec
Rigging elec
Rigging elec
Rigging elec
Key grip
Key grip, 2d unit
Key grip, 2d unit
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Dolly grip
Company grip
Company grip
Company grip
Company grip
Key rigging grip
Best boy rigging grip
Rigging grip
Rigging grip
Rigging grip
24 frame video playback
VTR playback
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Asst art dir
Art dept coord
Art dept prod asst
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Ed prod asst
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Leadman
Set dec buyer
Set dec buyer
On-set dresser
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Set dec res
Set dec res
Prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Head painter
Standby painter
Const coord
Const foreman
Laborer
Laborer
Toolman
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Greensman
Asst greens
Asst greens
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Key cost
Cost buyer
Seamstress
Cost prod asst
MUSIC
Mus supv
Exec mus prod
SOUND
Supv sd ed/Addl re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Prod sd mixer
Boom person
Re-rec at
Asst sd ed
Sd ed
Foley mixer
Foley artist
Foley artist
Sd editorial
Re-rec eng
VISUAL EFFECTS
Title art and graphic des
Digital intermediate and visual eff by
Smoke ed and visual eff compositor
Visual eff compositor
Compositor
Visual eff by
Visual eff supv, Custom Film Effects
Visual eff prod, Custom Film Effects
Main and end titles by
MAKEUP
Makeup dept head
Makeup artist
Hair dept head
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting asst
Addl extras casting
Loc mgr
Loc mgr, 2d unit
Key asst loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Loc asst, 2d unit
Prod accountant
1st asst accountant
2d asst accountant
2d asst accountant
Payroll accountant
Accounting clerk
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Travel & shipping coord
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Set prod asst, 2d unit
Set prod asst, 2d unit
Post prod supv
Asst to A. Payne
Asst to J. Burke
Asst to G. Parra
Asst to G. Clooney
Security to G. Clooney
"Behind the scenes" filmmaker
Clearances & product placement coord
Marine coord
Unit pub
Studio teacher
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transporation co-capt
Transportation dispatcher
Set medic
Const medic
Const medic
Catering
Chef
Cook
Craft services
Craft service asst
Factotum, 2d unit
Prod intern
Prod intern
Prod intern
Prod intern
Prod intern
Prod intern
Prod intern
Prod intern
Prod intern
Prod intern
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Marine coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Digital intermediate col
Digital intermediate prod
Col timer
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings (New York, 2007).
MUSIC
"Kalena Kai," written by John Kalapana, performed by Keola Beamer and George Winston, courtesy of Dancing Cat Records
"Paka Ua," written by Ozzie Kotani, performed by Ozzie Kotani and Daniel Ho, courtesy of Daniel Ho Creations
"Jean's Theme," written by Andrew Lein, performed by Steve Di Laudo and Andrew Lein, courtesy of Denmaster Studios
+
MUSIC
"Kalena Kai," written by John Kalapana, performed by Keola Beamer and George Winston, courtesy of Dancing Cat Records
"Paka Ua," written by Ozzie Kotani, performed by Ozzie Kotani and Daniel Ho, courtesy of Daniel Ho Creations
"Jean's Theme," written by Andrew Lein, performed by Steve Di Laudo and Andrew Lein, courtesy of Denmaster Studios
"An Artist's Vision," written and performed by Anthony Natividad, courtesy of Mountain Apple Company HAWAII
"Kalena Kai," written by John Kalapana, performed by Keola Beamer, courtesy of Starscape Music
"Auwe," written and performed by Ray Kane, courtesy of Cord International-Hana Ola Records
"Poli'ahu," written and performed by Keola Beamer, courtesy of Dancing Cat Records
"Interlude with Ukelele," written and performed by George Kahumoku, Jr. and Richard Ford
"Imi Auia 'Oe," written by Charles E. King & Queen Lydia Lili'uokalani, arranged and performed by Keola Beamer, courtesy of Dancing Cat Records
"Holoholo Ka'a," written and performed by Jeff Peterson, courtesy of Peterson Productions
"Pua Lani," written and performed by Jeff Peterson, courtesy of Peterson Productions
"Night Blooming Cereus," written and performed by Jeff Peterson and Riley Lee, courtesy of Hula Records
"Hawaiian Skies," written and performed by Jeff Peterson, courtesy of Peterson Productions
"Deep in an Ancient Hawaiian Forest," written and performed by Makana, courtesy of Makana Music LLC
"Miss Bea," written and performed by McCoy Tyner, courtesy of Chesky Records, by arrangement with Manhattan Production Music
"'Ulili E," written by Johnny Noble, Harry Naope and George Koahi, performed by Jeff Peterson, courtesy of Peterson Productions
"Wonderland," written and performed by Eugene Kulikov, courtesy of pigFACTORY USA
"Sanoe," written by Queen Lydia Lili'uokalani, arranged and performed by Danny Carvalho, courtesy of Lava Rock Music
"Hapuna Sunset," written and performed by Charles Michael Brotman, courtesy of Palm Records
"The Harshest Place on Earth," (from the motion picture March of the Penguins ), composed by Alex Wurman, courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.
+
SONGS
"Ka Makani Ka'ili Aloha," written by Matthew Kane, arranged and performed by Gabby Pahinui, courtesy of Panini Records
"Hi'ilawe," traditional, arranged and performed by Sonny Chillingworth, courtesy of Dancing Cat Records
"Ka Mele Oku'u Pu'uwai," traditional, arranged by Solomon Ho'opi'i, performed by Sol Hoopii's Novelty Trio, courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment, by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
+
SONGS
"Ka Makani Ka'ili Aloha," written by Matthew Kane, arranged and performed by Gabby Pahinui, courtesy of Panini Records
"Hi'ilawe," traditional, arranged and performed by Sonny Chillingworth, courtesy of Dancing Cat Records
"Ka Mele Oku'u Pu'uwai," traditional, arranged by Solomon Ho'opi'i, performed by Sol Hoopii's Novelty Trio, courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment, by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
"Kaua'i Beauty," written by Henry Wai'au, arranged and performed by Gabby Pahinui, courtesy of Panini Records
"Papa Sia," written by Johnny Noble, performed by 'Elua Kane, courtesy of Hula Records
"Leahi," written by Mary Robins and Johnny Noble, performed by Gabby Pahinui, courtesy of Panini Records
"Hi'ilawe," traditional, arranged and performed by Gabby Pahinui, courtesy of Hula Records
"In Ya System," written by Don Kawaauhau, Shane Veincent and Caleb Richards, performed by Sudden Rush, courtesy of Sudden Rush LLC, by arrangement with Robert Sterling Music New York
"Wai O Ke Aniani," traditional, arranged and performed by Gabby Pahinui, courtesy of Panini Records
"Ka Loke," written by Mary Heanu and Johnny Noble, performed by Makaha Sons with Dennis Pavao, courtesy of Tropical Music
"'Ulili E," written by Johnny Noble, Harry Naope and George Koahi, performed by Rev. Dennis Kamakahi, courtesy of Dancing Cat Records
"Pua Hone," written and performed by Rev. Dennis Kamakahi, courtesy of Dancing Cat Records
"Pine Tree Slack Key," written and performed by Pancho Graham, courtesy of Kaku Productions
"Nani Wai'ale'ale," written by Dan Pokipala, Sr., performed by Kanak Attack
"The Yodel Song," written by Gary Haleamau, performed by Kanak Attack
"Faith in Rain," written by Maureen Davis and Adam Daniel, performed by The Flutterbies featuring Maureen Davis, courtesy of Toaster Child Music
"Hummingbird Heart," written by Maureen Davis and Adam Daniel, performed by The Flutterbies featuring Maureen Davis, courtesy of Toaster Child Music
"He'eia," written by David Bray, Linda Bray and Johnny Noble, performed by Gabby Pahinui and Sons of Hawaii, courtesy of Hula Records
"Hi'ilawe," traditional, arranged by Bernie Ka'ai, performed by Ernest Tavares, courtesy of GNP Crescendo Records, by arrangement with Ocean Park Music Group
"Mom," written and performed by Lena Machado, courtesy of Cord International-Hana Ola Records.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
16 November 2011
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 16 November 2011
Copyright Claimants:
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Dune Entertainment III LLC
Copyright Dates:
18 November 2011 18 November 2011
Copyright Numbers:
PA1758395 PA1758395
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby®; Datasat Digital Sound; SDDS Sony Dynamic Digital Sound in selected theatres
Color
Lenses/Prints
Filmed with Panavision® cameras & lenses; prints by deluxe®
Duration(in mins):
115
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
45583
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Matt King, a wealthy Hawaiian real estate lawyer, sits at his wife Elizabeth's bedside in the hospital. The couple has barely spoken to each other in months and they can't speak at all now: Elizabeth lies in a coma following a tragic waterskiing accident. Meanwhile, Matt's youngest daughter, 10-year-old Scottie, has emotional problems and lashes out by sending vulgar text messages to a female classmate. Also, Matt must soon make a controversial decision whether or not to sell a large plot of land on the island of Kaua'i that his family has owned for generations. The poorer members of Matt's extended family are pressuring him to sell the land immediately to a developer. As Elizabeth's condition deteriorates, Matt is forced to have her taken off of life support. Before the plug is pulled, though, he brings home his teenage daughter Alexandra, who has been living at a boarding school for troubled girls. Although Matt spares Scottie the severity of the situation, when Alexandra hears that her mother is about to die she drops the bombshell that Elizabeth had been having an affair with a strange man. Devastated by the news, Matt runs to the nearby home of Kai and Mark, Elizabeth's best friends, to pry more information out of them. Kai initially refuses to talk about the affair. However, after Matt tells her Elizabeth is going to die, Kai exclaims that Elizabeth was deeply in love with this other man and was going to ask Matt for a divorce. From Mark, Matt learns the other man's name: Brian Speer. Back home, Alexandra insists to her father that Sid, a teenage male friend, come with them when they visit Elizabeth's ... +


Matt King, a wealthy Hawaiian real estate lawyer, sits at his wife Elizabeth's bedside in the hospital. The couple has barely spoken to each other in months and they can't speak at all now: Elizabeth lies in a coma following a tragic waterskiing accident. Meanwhile, Matt's youngest daughter, 10-year-old Scottie, has emotional problems and lashes out by sending vulgar text messages to a female classmate. Also, Matt must soon make a controversial decision whether or not to sell a large plot of land on the island of Kaua'i that his family has owned for generations. The poorer members of Matt's extended family are pressuring him to sell the land immediately to a developer. As Elizabeth's condition deteriorates, Matt is forced to have her taken off of life support. Before the plug is pulled, though, he brings home his teenage daughter Alexandra, who has been living at a boarding school for troubled girls. Although Matt spares Scottie the severity of the situation, when Alexandra hears that her mother is about to die she drops the bombshell that Elizabeth had been having an affair with a strange man. Devastated by the news, Matt runs to the nearby home of Kai and Mark, Elizabeth's best friends, to pry more information out of them. Kai initially refuses to talk about the affair. However, after Matt tells her Elizabeth is going to die, Kai exclaims that Elizabeth was deeply in love with this other man and was going to ask Matt for a divorce. From Mark, Matt learns the other man's name: Brian Speer. Back home, Alexandra insists to her father that Sid, a teenage male friend, come with them when they visit Elizabeth's parents, Scott and Alice. At his in-laws', Matt is berated by the crusty Scott, who also yells at his eldest granddaughter, for treating Elizabeth badly. Alice, however, is suffering from Alzheimer's and doesn't understand what's going on. When Alice thinks she's going to visit Queen Elizabeth, Sid bursts out laughing and Scott punches him in the face. On the ride home, Alexandra coerces Matt to drive by Speer's home, where she saw her mother with her lover. While the house provides no clues to Speer's identity, Alexandra spots the man's face on a real estate sign elsewhere in the neighborhood. At home, Matt calls the phone number on the sign under the pretense that he's interested in a house, but all he gets is an answering machine. The next day, Matt unleashes all of his fury on the unconscious Elizabeth. When Alexandra is equally cruel to her mother, Matt spanks her and forces her to say something nice. Then, while they're keeping Elizabeth company, Speer's office returns Matt's call. Alexandra answers, pretending to be her dad's assistant. She learns that Speer is away on Kaua'i for business. Later, at the house, Matt tells all of Elizabeth's friends that they should go visit her over the next few days before the plug is pulled. Privately, Matt comes up with the controversial plan to tell Speer as well. Alexandra is opposed to the plan, but ultimately suggests that she, Scottie and Sid accompany Matt on his mad crusade. At the Kaua'i airport, Matt, Sid and the girls run into Matt's cousin Ralph who takes them to the massive piece of land that the King estate owns. The cousins discuss how the land belongs to a family trust that is going to dissolve in seven years if Matt refuses to sell now. But, if he sells now, all the Kings will make a fortune. Once settled into their hotel, Matt has difficulty tracking down Speer on the island. Worse, he has even more difficulty getting his kids to show any respect toward his authority. The girls curse like crazy and discuss inappropriate sexual topics in front of him. Surprisingly, Sid shows off his sensitive side and reveals that his own father recently died in a drunk driving accident. While jogging on the beach the next morning, Matt runs right by Speer, whom he follows to his vacation cottage, which he is sharing with his wife, Julie, and two young sons. Later, Matt makes small talk with Julie on the same beach, pretending he doesn't know who Brian is. At a restaurant, Matt runs into his older cousin, Hugh, who actually owns the cottage that the Speers are renting. Hugh provides the shocking news that Brian Speer is the brother-in-law of the exact same developer whom Matt has been thinking of selling the family land to. So, if Matt sells out to this particular developer, then Speer will make a mint on real estate commissions. When Matt expresses hesitation at selling the land at all, Hugh is flabbergasted. Walking back to the hotel, Alexandra convinces Matt to stop at the Speers' cabin to confront Brian. While Julie gets drinks for the Kings, Matt bluntly tells Brian that Elizabeth is going to die in a few days and that he should go visit her. Then, stealing some extra minutes alone, Matt forces Brian to come clean. Brian explains that he was never in love with Elizabeth and that getting mixed up with the land deal was just a big coincidence. Then, just when he's about to leave for the night, Matt gives Julie a surprise, passionate kiss. Upon returning to the hospital, a child therapist finally breaks the news about pulling the plug on Elizabeth to Scottie. Alice, Scott and Elizabeth's brother Barry also make their final visit. Scott again berates Matt for treating Elizabeth badly, but Sid and Alexandra both proudly stand up for Matt. The next day, Matt has a meeting with all of his cousins to vote on the land sale. Via secret ballot, the majority agrees to sell to the developer. But, it's Matt who has the last word and he refuses to sell to anyone. He decides to keep the land and figure out how to keep it past the remaining seven years on the trust. As Matt, his daughters and Sid wait for Elizabeth to finally pass on, Julie Speer makes a surprise visit to the hospital with a huge bouquet of flowers. The kids leave the room so Julie can divulge to Matt that she knows everything that happened. Brian refuses to visit and Julie tells the unconscious Elizabeth that she forgives her, although her tears and angry tone belie her words. After Julie leaves, Matt gives Elizabeth a final kiss and says goodbye. Then, it's Scottie and Alexandra's turn to say goodbye privately. After their mother expires, the Kings spread her ashes in the Pacific Ocean from a canoe. At home, Matt sits on the couch with his daughters eating ice cream and watching March of the Penguins . +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.