George Clooney is more than just a pretty face.
Just in case you didn't already know that, see The Descendants. In my opinion, this is the best film he's made to date. Clooney is a movie star who can still morph into a character, unlike some movie stars who come across on screen as movie stars just playing someone else (Tom Cruise, I'm talking about you). In this film, he's a lawyer named Matt King whose risk-taking wife is on life support, having been critically injured in a water skiing accident. He's also dealing with two daughters, both having trouble coping with their mother's absence.
Then he finds out his wife had been having an affair and was planning to leave him. As he searches for answers, he struggles to hold his family together, spearhead the sale of his family's ancestral land, and eventually make a decision as to whether or not to keep his wife on life support. When he sets out to find and confront the real estate broker his wife was seeing, with his daughters and eldest daughter Alex's dopey friend Sid in two, the family begins to bond.
Clooney, a confirmed bachelor in real life, is spot-on as a husband and father here. As his daughters, Alex and Scottie, Shailene Woodley and Amara Miller are also wonderful. I especially liked Nick Krause as Alex's always inappropriate friend Sid. This guy was a genius when it came to ticking people off. Beau Bridges is good, as always, as one of Matt's cousins, Hugh, a long-haired, Hawaiian-shirted land baron.
But the real star of this movie is Hawaii, and never has it looked more beautiful. The cinematography shows off the lush paradise to the max, providing such a stunning backdrop for the family's turmoil that you'll run, not walk, to your nearest travel agent.
I confess: I've been a fan of George Clooney's ever since he played Sela Ward's love interest in the late '80s TV series Sisters...but this actor isn't getting older, he's getting better. Much better.