Review: The Kids Are All Right
If there is one thing that disappoints me about today’s movies is that they don’t possess the same sense of self-importance as the films of old. But what they lack in the social commentary of films like Easy Rider or Network, they often make up for in their willingness to portray nontraditional families and relationships. This new indie dramedy is another shining, hilarious example.
In The Kids Are All Right, Anette Bening and Julianne Moore play a married lesbian couple who each have given birth to a child created from the sperm of the same donor. Since the older sibling (Mia Wasikowska) is turning 18, the age at which a sperm donor’s confidentiality agreement becomes null and void, her younger brother (Josh Hutcherson) naturally convinces her to put them in touch with their biological father. Their father just so happens to be an eccentric ladies’ man played by Mark Ruffalo, whose presence creates a rift in the dynamics of this seemingly perfect unconventional family.
This cast easily makes for the best acting ensemble I’ve seen all year, with all five of these actors giving exceptional performances. The stand-out for me was Julianne Moore, who embodied such sexual tension and romantic frustration but always in a hilarious and strangely sexy way. I just wish that Hutcherson (whose character’s name is Laser… how cool is that?) would have had more of a presence in the film. He’s the one who brought about the whole ordeal, but he becomes a mere afterthought by the end of this thing.
What I really loved about the movie is that it didn’t glamorize the couple’s relationship. They could have beat us over the head with the whole notion that homosexual couples should be allowed to get married, that they can raise a family just as well as more traditional ones, but they didn’t. Bening’s character is the stereotypical motherly figure, doing most of the worrying and nagging, while Moore is the more carefree hippie type. They have a good relationship, but director/co-writer Lisa Cholodenko makes no bones about it that a lesbian marriage, just like any other one, takes a lot of work.
What I didn’t love was the way one audience member in my showing felt the need to bitch and moan every time the two leading ladies would kiss on screen. Hey, dumbass… you are watching a movie about a lesbian couple and you didn’t expect them to show any affection toward one another? The advertising behind the film made the premise of the movie abundantly clear and was misleading in no way. If you can’t handle seeing two ladies kiss, or at the very least keep your mouth shut, please go see another movie and spare me the aggravation of having to witness your ignorance.
That’s what I hope people can take away from movies like these, great films that not only entertain but enlighten as well. If people become more willing to subject themselves to this type of film we will achieve a greater level of understanding and openness, which will hopefully lead to less of the feelings I observed and mentioned above. That, my friends, is the true power of film.
RIYL: The Squid and the Whale, The Family Stone, Away We Go.