Shirley MacLaine once said that it is impossible to do great comedy and be politically correct at the same time.
In The Kids Are All Right, Director/Co-Writer Lisa Cholodenko manages to successfully walk that fine line between the two without crossing over to the latter side. While the film has a little fun with New Age philosophy, alpha partners, the guy who can’t commit, and Mexican gardeners – it never offends.
Julianne Moore (Jules) and Annette Bening (Nic) are a California couple that are settled in their lifestyle but dealing with typical mid-life problems.
Bening’s character is a successful professional who seems to delight in having it all together and providing the best for her family.
Moore plays an enchanting, New Age spouting, identity-searching, stay at home mom who desperately wants to find a successful career.
The small fissures in the relationship like Bening’s affinity for wine and Moore’s inability to finish professional projects are the focus of the film until their children split the cracks wide open with the introduction of their biological father to the family mix.
Dealing with bad friends and preparing to leave the nest for college, Josh Hutcherson (Laser) and Mia Wasikowska (Joni) decide that now is the right time to find the father that they have never known.
Mark Ruffalo (Paul) is the unflappable, quintessential laid-back California charmer that unsuprisingly quickly warms to finding that he has two nearly-grown children as a result of a sperm donation that he made years ago. (Hey man, it’s all good!)
Bening’s character is immediately threatened while Moore’s chakras quickly start picking up the positive vibes that Ruffalo begins throwing down.
Bening is incensed by how quickly Ruffalo ingratiates himself into her family’s life by dispensing sage advice, encouraging Moore’s professional pursuits, and offering financial assistance and fatherly outings for the children.
When is seems like the various pressures are going to break the family unit apart, Bening and Moore begin to respond instead of absorb their circumstances.
Character-Driven Family Drama
The Kids Are All Right is a story about a family unit fighting the archetypal villain of self-interest versus the hero that is preservation of the whole.
The film works because the characters are believable, they make you root for them, and you want them to overcome their obstances.
The Kids Are All Right was screened at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and was released later in July.
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