Hawaii & The Descendants

I don’t usually blog about movies, but last evening I saw The Descendants, and thought I would say a bit about it.


1) It’s a very good film.  You don’t need me to say it, or to review it.  All the critics have done that.  Why I thought it was interesting enough to mention is because of 2:

2) It’s the only remotely mainstream film that I have ever seen that actually captures Hawaii in any capacity.  Forget Blue Crush and 50 First Dates and all the other crap that pretends to be Hawaii and is really some weird fantasy land that only exists in the minds of movie directors and the gullible public, The Descendants actually looks like Hawaii.

Granted, the Hawaii it shows is a rarefied version: I knew old Missionary families: the elite ‘Cousins’ who had been their for generations but never quite assimilated.  And I knew kids who went to Punahou School and HPI.  And the world they lived in was far, far from my world.

But the neighborhoods?  And the wet, dripping greenness of the valleys?  And the dry west sides of the islands?  And the red dirt roads?  Those I knew.  Those were my world.

Dawn over the tip of Molokai

Flying above Honolulu

A bay on Molokai

Lahaina from the sea

Molokai - Ho'olehua



  1. That’s really interesting! I, having never been to Hawaii, wouldn’t have ever questioned what’s in the movies–I always figured they would know what they were doing.

  2. Interesting…I’ve never been to Hawaii, but friends’ pictures seem to make it out to be like those fake movies, which is why I never had any interest in going. Your version sounds a heck of lot more worth visiting!

    • Oh yes, get away from Waikiki and Hawaii is amazing and well worth visiting! Even if you don’t get anywhere near as ‘real’ and rugged and not-at-all touristy as Molokai.

  3. Those images are stunning! What an amazing environmentally diverse place to grow up in!

  4. mouse says

    I’m going to have to see it. We went to Kauai for our honeymoon. You can’t really know a place more than superficially in 10 days, but I loved every minute there. The natural wonder of the place blew.us.away.

    It made me wonder where on earth Hawaiians go to honeymoon. Do you eventually feel the need to get away and go somewhere less lush and tropical?

    • I’m glad Hawaii treated you well for your honeymoon!

      I was married in Hawaii and honeymooned in Hawaii. Partly that was so my new DH saw a bit of Hawaii, and partly that was because we didn’t have a lot of money, and didn’t want to start our honeymoon with a 5+ hour flight.

      Amazingly, the two top holiday destinations for people from Hawaii are Alaska and Las Vegas (so popular it’s sometimes called the ‘9th Hawaiian Island’). The appeal is lost on me, but apparently some locals really do want to go somewhere DIFFERENT.

  5. Debbiee says

    “The Descendants” is a wonderful film, no doubt about it. But given the mix of golden globe and Oscar buzz I expected a lot more.

    The storyline and the premise of the movie is ideal. In fact, the tagline caught my attention enormously: “trying to reconnect with daughters.” That is exactly the type of movie I like. Instantly, I could tell this was a movie about character development and human connection, usually the type of movies with the greatest potential.

    Unfortunately, it was merely decent, however, not special. It felt like the movie built up a lot potential, but failed to release it at a certain point during the movie. The complete movie, for me, felt too introductory in nature. Not necessarily the plot, because the plot does evolve, however the overall “feel” of the movie felt preliminary to a bigger and much more dramatic event which never happened.

    It is sometimes complicated to explain my feelings towards the movie because the fault wasn’t necessarily technical or specific. But it did linger around and distracted my viewing somewhat. I felt like there was still more to discover in both Clooney’s character and the character of his daughters. Also, I think this element alone impacted on Clooney’s performance. His performance was good, definitely, but again, because I felt like there was more to be explored, naturally, I also felt like his performance could have been added to (but not necessarily improved).

    Given the Oscar buzz of this movie, I have to compare it to other movies of a similar nature. And unfortunately, I didn’t feel like there was sufficient link between the characters…although the potential to reach that connection was established, it was not acted upon in my opinion. Unfortunately I have to say there have been better developed “re-establishing connection” movies.

    All in all, this is an enjoyable movie, but it is missing some important elements which deteriorates the viewing experience to some extent.

    Have a great day!

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