The Kids Are Alright
A dilemma of families
"The Kids Are All Right" is more than just a typical dramatic comedy, it's a striking view into the heart of what makes most families tick. Displaying how every family no matter how happy they may seem, they can still succumb to turmoil every now and then. Not that I'm saying every family endures the troubles of one spouse cheating on other, or that every child is the by product of sperm donation, then gets curious enough to meet their biological father. No, what I mean is that every family, at one point or another, tend to suffer hardships. Not necessarily out of lack of love, but sometimes from something as simple as lack of communication. Something that I'm sure almost anyone who's raised a family can deeply resonate and relate to deeply.
The film is essentially about a Lesbian couple, who have raised a family together for the last eighteen years. Nic (Annette Bening) is what some would refer to as the dominate partner between the two, as she's a highly successful doctor. Her partner, Jules (Julianne Moore), is more free spirited and unsure one between them, as she's been struggling to get her landscaping business off the ground. Nic and Jules, both love each other, but their relationship, like all marriages, is hardly perfect. Nic has a tendency to be a bit of a control freak and perfectionist that sometimes frustrates her kids and even Jules, as she feels unappreciated sometimes during their relationship.
Together they've raised two teenage kids named Laser (Josh Hutcherson), and Joni (Mia Wasikowska), who're half siblings. Nic gave birth to Joni while Jules is Laser's biological mother, as both shared same semen donor. However, like all children, Laser and Joni both become curious as to who their biological father is.
Enter Paul (Mark Ruffalo), an old school hippie that seems to resonate a natural element of "coolness" without even trying. Think Fonzie, from "Happy Days", when he's around forty years old, and you should have yourself a clear picture of who Paul is. Except, unlike Fonzie, you won't hear Paul come up with any short one liners in this film. No, his responses typically range from, “Sure, I mean ... sure, yes, of course ... I mean, why not? Sure", to "I love Lesbians." As you can probably tell, Paul is not be the brightest guy on the block, but he's likable enough to where you just can't hate the guy; even when he nearly breaks up this seemingly happy family.
What transpires from the kids first meeting with Paul, soon turns into a whirlwind recipe for disaster. In theory, the mothers don't mind their kids getting to know their real father but in practice, they loath the idea completely. Not just because they feel threatened by the idea that their love may not be good enough anymore for their own children, but because Nic doesn't exactly care for Paul's carefree lifestyle, and she's not afraid to voice her concerns either. Unfortunately, in series of unlikely events, Nic and Jules find their own relationship strained by this whole ordeal, as it nearly pulls their family apart. However, in the end, each character grows a little wiser, and becomes stronger for it, as everyone should in times of adversity.
To say this movie, features arguably one of the most touching stories ever made would be a drastic understatement, to say the least. "The Kid's Are Alright" touches on many family related issues that anyone from all walks of life can relate to, and sticks with you after you've seen it. Like "Inception's" deep resonating imprint on the viewer's psyche, "The Kids Are Alright" will leave a deep imprint on your heart, as it's truly is one of the most emotionally driven films that I've ever seen.
However, that's not to say that "The Kids Are Alright" is a straight up drama, as Lisa Cholodenko is wise enough not to over saturate her audience too much soap opera mush. No, like all brilliant directors of dramatic comedies, she manages to use just the right touch of drama and comedic elements to keep the viewer entertained. Making us laugh through various moments of the movie, while taking nothing away from the dramatic themes of the film itself. Orchestrating perhaps a perfect combination of comedy and drama.
As for the performances of Annette Bening and Julianne Moore, I thought either one of them could have easily been nominated for an Oscar this year. Both actresses were at the top of their games for this movie; while Mark Ruffalo does an excellent job playing the offbeat hipster father without a clue.
Overall, I'd have to give this film a three and a half out of four. Trust me, it's that freaking good, as any true movie fan will love this film. Unfortunately, I doubt in our current society that some people will be open to seeing a movie about an openly gay couple trying to raise a family but if a person is wiling to give this film a chance, then they might find it every bit as thought provoking as I did. With that being said, I would like to finish this piece with a powerful quote by Julianne Moore, as it speaks to the heart of this movie:
"...marriage is hard... Just two people slogging through the shit, year after year, getting older, changing. It's a fucking marathon, okay? So, sometimes, you know, you're together for so long, that you just... You stop seeing the other person. You just see weird projections of your own junk. Instead of talking to each other, you go off the rails and act grubby and make stupid choices..."