Although George Clooney’s character in The Descendants ends up rejecting the opportunity to create a new golf resort, by the score I kept, our industry still came out ahead.
Any time you can get George Clooney to help show the club business in a positive light, that’s a good thing. And even though Clooney’s character in his latest movie, The Descendants, ends up rejecting the opportunity to create a new golf resort, by the mental score that I kept while watching the film, our industry still came out ahead.
If you haven’t yet seen it, Clooney plays Matt King, a lawyer descended from Hawaiian royalty who is also the controlling trustee for 25,000 acres of what’s described as the islands’ last expanse of unspoiled oceanfront property. The land has been held in a trust that will expire in seven years, and the family has started to entertain offers for its sale and development (Matt King holds ultimate veto power, but has said he will follow the majority wishes of his many cousins, after a vote is taken on the various offers at an upcoming family meeting).
This is actually all a subplot to the main part of the movie, which focuses on Clooney reconnecting with his two daughters while dealing with the fallout from a boating accident that has left his wife on life support (and also from learning that she had been having an affair before the accident).
In the course of pursuing all of these plot lines, these snippets of club life work their way into the story:
- In an effort to cheer up his youngest, 12-year-old daughter, who (understandably) is in a seriously petulant funk, King takes her to the beach club they belong to. After diving into an ice cream sundae, she almost instantly becomes a happy and likeable kid again and exclaims, “I love the food here at the club!” Score a big point for us; in fact, I would suggest putting this clip on a continuous loop and playing it non-stop outside your grill room.
- Clooney later strolls the beach in a red t-shirt that reads (loudly on the back, with a more subdued logo on the front) “Ocean Outrigger Club.” As best I can determine, for the beach-club scenes the filmmakers used the real-life Outrigger Canoe Club near Waikiki Beach—but I guess that property couldn’t afford the product-placement fees to get an outright plug. Still, Clooney wearing any club’s shirt, even if it’s fictitious, scores more points in our favor.
- When Clooney, his daughters and a cousin visit the land the family is putting up for sale, I braced myself for our industry to really get slammed. But as the group stands on an overlook to gaze down at the gorgeous beach and lush inland scenery, the cousin comments that one of the bidders wants “to build another Pebble Beach.” Then, after some nostalgic comments and contemplative silence, the cousin adds something to the effect of, “Hey, our family’s enjoyed it for all these years—maybe that wouldn’t be a bad way to let others come from all over the world to enjoy it, too.”
A cynic might say, especially given later developments in the movie, that this was really just the cousin doing some smooth lobbying, to try to soften Clooney up to approve a sale. But I didn’t see it that way. Despite what you might expect Hollywood’s typical attitude to be towards golf course development, I think it was portrayed as a reasonable option—and that club life was shown to have mainstream, family-oriented appeal as well. Well played, George.