I don’t know why, but I expected a little bit more from this film. It looked really good when I first saw previews for it, it has a solid cast and an interesting story, but the finished product left me wanting more.
Julianne Moore and Annette Bening play Jules and Nic, a pair of middle aged lesbian lovers who have had two children via a sperm donor. The eldest of the two children, Joni (Mia Wasikowska), has just turned 18 and can now legally find out who her biological father is. Her younger brother, Laser (Josh Hutcherson), pleads with his sister to find out as he is curious. The two eventually meet their father Paul (Mark Ruffalo), and he becomes a part of their life. Things get complicated when Jules and Paul begin to have an affair, and Nic finds out about it, causing friction in their modern family.
I like nearly every actor in this movie. I am a huge fan of Mark Ruffalo, and not just because he is the best Hulk we have ever had. I enjoy his performance in 13 Going On 30, too (Suddenly 30, for you Aussies). Julianne Moore and Annette Bening are always solid, and both are really good here. I really like this original take on what a ‘normal’ family is. This new age family of lesbians and surrogates is so different from your man and wife and 2.5 kids, yet they still have all of the problems that any family has. It goes to show that not every family is the same, but they all have issues.
The Kids Are All Right just did not grab me as much as I expected it too. Julianne Moore and Annette Bening seem to be butch just for the sake of it. The film really wants to show the audience that these two are clearly lesbians. I’d have preferred it if it wasn’t so in your face. There are also a few sex scenes that added nothing to the story, I felt like they weren’t necessary and only added for effect.
The Kids Are All Right has fun with an original take on the modern family, but I still felt like it should have been better given the great cast involved.
The Kids Are All Right is… well it’s just all right. I expected more from this movie based on the trailers. Sadly it doesn’t quite deliver, despite an excellent cast and a unique premise.
Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and Laser (Josh Hutcherson) are the teenage children of lesbian couple Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore), who each gave birth to a child using the same sperm donor. Laser begs his sister to get in touch with their biological father after she turns 18, otherwise he will have to wait until he becomes an adult to contact him. Joni makes contact with their donor, Paul (Mark Ruffalo), and his introduction into their lives causes more trouble than anyone in the family could possibly have imagined.
The cast is what really lead me to want to watch this film, and they do live up to their collective hype. Ruffalo is one of my favorite actors, usually playing nice guys. Here he’s a bit of a jerk, which is a fun turn for him. Bening and Moore are excellent as always, and Wasikowska and Hutcherson hold their own against these more veteran actors. So while the cast is great, it’s the characters that I have some issue with.
My main issue is with the characters of Nic and Jules. They often feel one dimensional, with only fleeting moments where they feel like fully realized people. Nic is almost entirely serious, logical, and an all around downer. In contrast, Jules is the token free spirit, bouncing from project to project as she becomes bored. I know couples like this must exist in real life, but the juxtaposition of these characters is almost too much. The situation is made worse by the story showing that Nic and Jules respective biological children share their personality traits to a tee. It was particularly distressing when Nic implies that Laser is not as intelligent or driven because Jules, his bio mom, isn’t the most intelligent or driven person. I mean, this is your son lady. Maybe take some personal responsibility for his nurturing before blaming it all on nature? (Also, maybe you should have put your foot down and not let your wife name him Laser.)
I did like The Kids Are All Right‘s take on family values. Ultimately this is a movie about a family that chooses to stay together through the tough times. It just happens that the parents are lesbians. The same story could have been written about heterosexual adoptive parents and presented the same moral: every family is different, but they all have their issues.