It’s been a long time for Alexander Payne but I am pleased to say that the first trailer for his new comedy, the first since 2004’s Oscar winning hit Sideways, has been released. The film is another adaptation of a book and finds the director returning to familiar territory of both Sideways and About Schmidt with another dysfunctional family comedy, this time starring George Clooney as the ineffective dad. Like Election, Sideways, and About Schmidt, The Descendants is also based on a book, this one by Kaui Hart Hemmings. This time he has abandoned his usual screenwriting partner Jim Taylor in favor of what is sure to be a bizarre combination of actors Jim Rash and Nat Faxon.
The story looks to be a quirky dark comedy about a dad who must take care of his two kids after his wife gets hurt in some kind of accident. However he soon finds out that his wife has had an affair with another man. The film was shot in Hawaii and co-stars Matthew Lillard, Judy Greer, Robert Forster, and Shailene Woodley. I am a fan of Payne’s previous work, my favorite probably being About Schmidt, and I am eager to see how his film turns out without his usual collaborator Taylor. The trailer looks very funny and off-beat, and does a good job of avoiding sentimentality. I appreciate George Clooney’s recent willingness to really stretch his acting chops both with Up in the Air and The American. He appears to be playing a schlub here, something completely different than what he has done before. The film comes out December 6th with Fox Searchlight distributing.