Monday, February 7, 2011

The Kids Are All Right


Director: Lisa Cholodenko
Starring: Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo

Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and Laser (Josh Hutcherson) have two mommies: Nic (Bening) and Jules (Moore). When Laser asks Mia to help him try to find their sperm-donor father before she goes off to college, she reluctantly agrees. This is how they bring Paul (Ruffalo) into their family's lives, regardless of whether Nic or Jules were ready for him. As his involvement becomes deeper, thin cracks begin to appear in what seemed to be a strong and loving relationship between the two women, and their relationships with their children begin to change as well.

I went into The Kids Are All Right expecting a smart film with a lot of depth, and my expectations were met kind of half way. While I was delighted to see a well-received film about alternative approaches to family (both the lesbian and sperm donor angles) I really couldn't shake the feeling that I was watching a made-for-Hollywood family that is really whitewashed; kind of like saying The Cosby Show accurately represented African-American families in the 80's. Those families did/do exist, but they're annoying perfect and...easy.

I don't intend to downplay the conflicts in the film; for the most part, they are well played out and believable, with the exception of the Jules-Paul scenario, which could have been a really interesting conflict, considering it ended up being the crux of a lot of Nic and Jules' problems. Unfortunately, there were so many gaping holes in how it progressed and was eventually addressed that it left me more confused than anything, which made the believability factor go right down the tubes.

I thought the acting, primarily by the female leads was excellent, and I'm thrilled that Bening, who is not only extremely talented but seems to exude class and naturalness, got a great role and in turn, has received a lot of recognition for her work in the film. Mark Ruffalo - what can I say - he's always "Mark Ruffalo" and that's not a bad thing, but it's also not fresh either.

The Kids Are All Right was a decent film, but I guess I didn't see in it what a lot of other critics did. Perhaps I had higher expectations for it, considering the subject matter, and perhaps I thought it would contain a little more edge or depth to it, considering the conflicts presented, but it was a nice, somewhat vanilla movie that was enjoyable but not remarkable.

3 out of 5 stars

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