Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Kids Are All Right (2010)

My wife wanted to go see the film The Kids Are All Right; it has gotten generally good reviews, so I was game and we went on Saturday. Bottom line: we agreed that we'd give the film 2-1/2 stars out of 5.

Jules (Julianne Moore) and Nic (Annette Benning) have the normal American life in California. They're married, have two kids, and live in a comfortable home. The difference is, of course, that they're both women, and their children Lazer (15-year-old Josh Hutcherson) and Joni (18-year-old Mia Wasikowska) are the offspring of a single sperm donor, Paul (Mark Ruffalo). As the kids are maturing, they become curious about their father.

The kids set up an initially awkward luncheon with Paul. However, they remain interested after meeting him, and tell their parents, who invite Paul over for dinner. Gradually, Paul becomes an increasingly important part of the family's life--for better or worse.

The kids and Mark are great in this film. Their characters are well-developed and likable, though Lazer is a bit unbelievable (at least to this adult) because of his relationship with his clearly-toxic best friend. Mark Ruffalo's immense charm saves him, even though the way the filmmakers handle his character is insulting.

The real problem lies with the two moms. There are many unaddressed issues between the two--an ubercontrolling personality, alienation, alcoholism--and, while the issues are given lip service, they are never honestly discussed let alone resolved by the end of the film.

The film is almost schizophrenic, too. The first two-thirds are rather light, occasionally funny, and upbeat. Then, suddenly, after a legitimate crisis, the final third of the film becomes dark and somber.

There's a great film buried in the one currently on the multiplex screens, but it would have taken a better set of writers (and maybe actors, too) to bring it to life.

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