With About Schmidt and especially Sideways, Alexander Payne managed to brilliantly bridge comedy and serious themes, resulting in a realistic, entertaining and poignant experience.  With The Descendants, the experience is realistic but only depressing.  Every character has obvious flaws, but we see too much of them.  We encounter unrestrained thoughts and rantings, as subtext seemingly does not exist in this script.  We are put through uncomfortable conversations, encounters, and conflicts that normally might be avoided in most movies, yet with The Descendants, the filters and the gloves are off.  In the end, we don’t really learn anything new about the characters, other than how they deal with their emotions in unusual, heartbreaking circumstances.  It is difficult to truly embrace most of the characters, including the children and teens, and after a while the complaining, bickering, and downright maliciousness becomes grating.  The Descendants will certainly remain submerged and buried for this year’s Oscar race.