Friday, August 6, 2010

A movie review: The Kids Are All Right (2010)

The Kids Are All Right (2010)

Director - Lisa Cholodenko
106 Min; R
Annette Bening - Nic
Julianne Moore - Jules
Mark Ruffalo - Paul
Mia Wasikowska - Joni
Josh Hutcherson - Laser

The Kids Are All Right is a really good film. It's probably going to appeal to an older crowd, in general, but I don't think it is stretching it to say that many generations of people can enjoy this one. In a time when the definition of 'family' is so wide and varied that nobody seems to know for certain what it even means anymore, this film takes a look a typically dysfunctional functioning family that is dealing with the everyday ups and downs, that is, until the arrival of a new piece in the puzzle - then things get messy.

Jules (Julianne Moore) and Nic (Annette Bening) are a loving lesbian couple, married for many years and raising two children together. Joni is the 18 year old child of Nic, played by Mia Wasikowska, and like her mother she is smart and in control. Laser is the 15 year old child of Jules, played by Josh Hutcherson, and like his mother he is a free spirit. Joni and Laser are actually half brother and sister, since their 'moms', as they call them, received sperm from the same donor. Joni is 18 and ready to leave for a good college, but Laser, 15, wants her to do one thing for him before she leaves: contact their father. Joni is hesitant but agrees, and so the two of them call and meet with their biological father, Paul (Mark Ruffalo). A little of both children can be seen in Paul, and though neither intended for it to happen, they begin a relationship with him that spills over to the 'moms' with mixed results.

I always felt that Annette Bening would have won the Oscar for Best Actress for her wonderful role in American Beauty, had it not been of course for Hilary Swank who was never going to lose after her performance in Boys Don't Cry. I think this film gives her as good a shot as any at walking away with the statue. I'm not certain why, but I can't seem to get away from Julianne Moore's breasts, having just seen Chloe and now this, both times bare-breasted, and though she is a fine actress, I'm not seeking that out. In this film she is flighty and light and caring and complicated, and she does a good job juxtaposed with Bening who is the stable and thinking adult in the relationship. The two of them play off each other nicely and we get the true feeling that they are in love but like many people they struggle to maintain balance.

Ruffalo as the father Paul is excellent. He is in his late 30s and still having one night stands as he pleases. He runs an organic restaurant and has never been married and has no kids of his own. He has never even seriously thought about it, until he meets Joni and Laser. His way of thinking has been changed and with it he brings change to the entire family. This is a comedy of sorts, and you will laugh somewhat, but it is really a light hearted drama and I don't think I've seen too many films in recent years that have really strived like this to be a portrayl of a typical (atypical) American family.

**** and a half out of 5

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