Book-to-Movie Law states that once you have read the book, you are bound by the media to go see the movie based on said book, and therefor compare to two.
The Descendants is a beautiful book. An aching, engrossing, sad, inspiring book. A book I wanted to hold close to my chest. A book I wanted everyone around me to read. And then came the movie. I actually read this book after the movie came out, so my mind used George Clooney's voice while I read it. I liked having the actors to imagine in my mind while reading, something that doesn't happen very often and doesn't always work. But then I saw the movie and it was instantly perfect. George Clooney is perfect for this role. Alex and Scottie are just right, too. It was a good movie. Not an Oscar-worthy movie, but a good movie.
Except for one major complaint. The movie left out all of the cutest, most tender moments of the book! Without giving away too much, I was dismayed that there were no Minor Wars, middle finger training, and shark chase scenes. Those parts of the book were some of the very best pieces of the story, and would have translated really well to the screen. Alas, the movie rushed through these parts, leaving out important characterization. I also think there should have been more VO from Clooney. Not just because he has a totally sexy voice, but because his constant thoughts on being a Dad to his daughters, he wife, and her lover are incredibly raw and honest. The movie could have definitely benefited from more voice over!
Bottom Line: The book wins, especially if you are looking for a deeply moving read. The movie is just entertaining fluff.