Archive | August, 2010

Film Review: The Kids Are All Right

20 Aug

“The Kids Are All Right” is the type of film whose refreshing honesty reminds viewers of what movies are capable of. In “Kids,” writer/director Lisa Cholodenko (“High Art” and “Laurel Canyon”) puts politics aside to make one of the most controversial family arrangements of our time (a married lesbian couple raise two children with the help of an anonymous sperm donor) look relatively normal.

The lives of Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore) are reminiscent of most middle-aged couples trying to raise two teenagers in Southern California, until their world is turned upside down when 16-year-old Laser (Josh Hutcherson) prompts his older sister, Joni (Mia Wasikowska), to use her newly acquired 18-year-old legal status to find their biological father.

In their quest for identity, they meet Paul (Mark Ruffalo), a motorcycle-riding college dropout who owns an organic foods restaurant in Los Angeles. Laser and Mia try to keep their meeting with Paul secret until an interrogation involving Laser and the moms’ guy-on-guy porn stash inadvertently leads to a confession of the clandestine encounter.

Nic, the breadwinner and patriarchal figure of the same-sex twosome, and Jules, the flighty stay-at-home mom who’s never had a substantial career, decide that they need to meet the man who is infiltrating their children’s lives, so they insist that Paul come over for lunch.

As the layers of the movie unfold, the pseudo-father completely disrupts the dynamics of his makeshift family, forever changing the relationship between the kids and their mothers, and eventually the relationship between Nic and Jules. Despite the uniqueness of this alternative family and the tribulations they face, the concepts are so universal that the viewer effortlessly relates to the raw emotions and frankness of the scenes.

What could have been another unrecognized art-house film became one of the most talked about movies at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Cholodenko and co-writer Stuart Blumberg beautifully illustrate what it means to be a family and, through their witty dialogue, open our minds without being preachy.

“Kids” seems to be filled with just the right amount of comic relief throughout the profound and often uncomfortable scenes, that the viewer is able to take in these heavy themes with an air of lightness. It’s rare that a movie will seamlessly turn you on, crack you up, make you squirm and shed a tear. These are the elements many viewers look for in a movie, so most will probably think the kids are more than all right.

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