Alexander Payne might have mellowed over the years, but he hasn't lost his edge. After four films he's arrived at his own complicated version of family values and reconciled himself to feel-good resolutions — even for a story involving an accident, teenage alcoholism, adultery, death, and that ultimate destroyer of souls, a real estate transaction. Credit in part George Clooney's performance as the scion of a wealthy Hawaiian family faced with the disposition of a huge tract of inherited real estate and also with more personal matters, including a wife in a coma and daughters (Amara Miller and Shailene Woodley, both excellent) who are a handful. In relating this screwball melodrama Payne juggles moods, leavening complex emotions with goofy humor, illuminating the frailties and virtues we are all heir to, regardless of whose descendants we may be.
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