August 1, 2010

Movie Review: The Kids are All Right

KAAOS_1-Sheet_CS4_v19.inddThe Kids are All Right is a movie that I debated going to see in the first place. It is a film that I had heard was great. It was also a film I had heard was merely mediocre. Besides an intriguing cast, I can't say the trailers held all that much interest for me. Anyway, after thinking about it a bit longer, and looking for a movie to fill in some time with, I decided to go ahead and see it. Now here I am in the wake of a screening and feeling glad that I did go see it. Not because it is a great film or does things all that different than we have seen before, but because it is a solid relationship drama that deals with its characters in a realistic and more or less believable fashion.

I know a lot is going to be made of the fact that the central characters of the film are a lesbian couple. It isn't something you see all that often in a wide release film. It is sure to turn a lot of people away, no matter how you cut it it is a very hot topic and can raise emotional levels very quickly. Now, I am not going to get into my specific feelings on the matter. Frankly there is no room for it here, it is not what this movie is about nor do any of you really care what me thoughts are. Let's move along, shall we?

At the center of our story are Nik (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore). They have been married for a long time, I have heard twenty years but do not recall a number actually being said. They are a loving couple, but like any couple that has been together for a long time have hit something of a rough spot. Something of a chasm is forming between them, but I'm getting a little ahead of myself.


The couple have a two children, a son named Lazer (Josh Hutcherson) and a daughter named Joni (Mia Wasikowska). The two women used the same donor so the kids are half siblings. Joni, the elder, contacts the donor and the two meet their "father," Paul (Mark Ruffalo). Paul is an affable fellow who runs an organic restaurant that serves food from his own organic garden. He has an easy going personality and forms a bond with the children. He approached the meeting as being "cool" but then realizes that there is something missing from his life and he wants to be involved in the kids lives. However, while he is an important part of the story, he is more of the story's propellant than the story itself.

As the kids begin to spend time with Paul, Jules and Nik begin to drift somewhat. Nik is perfectionist seemingly always in control and Jules is a little adrift and seeking support that she is feeling she doesn't get at home. This leads to a choice that could drive a stake through the heart of their relationship.

The thing about The Kids are All Right is that the story feels very familiar. It feels typical, like I have seen it told many times before in slightly different surroundings. It is not something I feel I can fully get behind and truly love. That is probably in part my fault, but the story just doesn't feel fresh. With that being true, there is still a lot to like about this movie and it should be seen.


The good of this movie begins with the script co-written by director Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg. It treats all of the characters with respect, does not reduce them to stereotypes, and does not push the hot button of hysteria. This is most evident in the children, normal, well adjusted children who are curious about their who their father is and are at an age where their lives are fast changing. Then there are Jules and Nik who are portrayed like any other couple, warts and all. From top to bottom the writing is rock solid.

The next step are the performances. This is a solid cast. They bring life and truth to these characters. They are built on real people in real situations that are fed by real emotion. Every one of these people are genuine and feel like you could meet them in your real life.

What it comes down is a movie that is familiar bolstered by solid writing and strong performances. It is a movie that while it does not break any new ground, is an entertaining film. It is about relationships and how fragile they can be and how strong they can be and how resilient they can be. It is a good film that is well worth checking out, just don't expect your life to be changed.



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