Review: The Kids Are All Right
PLOT: Jules (Julianne Moore), and Nic (Annette Bening) are a happy lesbian couple, raising two teen-aged kids (Mia Wasikowska, and Josh Hutcherson) that they conceived with the help of a sperm donor. When the kids go looking for the donor, they discover Paul (Mark Ruffalo)- a kind and appealing man, that both kids immediately take a liking to. Jules, and Nic welcome him into the family, in an effort to allow the kids to know their birth father. Hilarity ensues...
REVIEW: THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT made big news toward the end of the Sundance Film Festival when it was announced that Focus Films picked up the North American rights for just under $5 million, making it the biggest deal of the festival. After seeing the film, I can see why Focus felt the urge to pick it up, as this is a delightful and timely comedy, that could easily break into the mainstream if marketed properly.
I must admit to being somewhat shocked that this is such a fun film, as director Lisa Cholodenko is not known for comedies. Her previous films, LAUREL CANYON, and HIGH ART were both fairly somber melodramas about modern sexuality. THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT also explores those themes, but the approach could not be more different, and it`s a credit to Cholodenko`s skill as a filmmaker that she`s able to make the leap into comedy so effortlessly.
One of the big selling points of the film has to be the cast, which is pitch-perfect. As the loving, lesbian couple, Annette Bening, and Julianne Moore are wonderful. Neither is particularly known for their work in comedies, but both show a natural flair for humour. Moore plays the flakier side of the couple, with Bening playing the straight-arrow provider. Sundance 2010 has been incredible for Bening, as she had another great role in MOTHER & CHILD. Watching both films back to back, it`s incredible that she was able to switch from gut-wrenching drama to light comedy so easily, and hopefully she`ll continue to get quality roles that allow her to shine. As for Moore, it`s nice to see her having fun in a role, as she has a tendency to appear in heavier films, like A SINGLE MAN. This is a nice change of pace for her, and she acquits herself nicely (her explanation of the lesbian love of gay male porn is classic).
As good as Bening and Moore are, for me, Mark Ruffalo has to be the real scene-stealer. In less capable hands (and with a less compassionate director), he probably would of come off as the antagonist, with him threatening the sanctity of the lesbian household. However, even though he does indeed threaten Bening and Moore`s relationship with both the kids, and each other, he`s never anything less than 100 percent likable. You can understand why the kids like this organic food harvesting, motorcycle riding rebel, who`s a stark contrast to their `Moms`(which is what they call Moore & Bening). My only problem with the film is that I found his character arc was left somewhat unresolved. I was hoping that he would get a bit a closure in the final scenes, which doesn't really happen, as he kind of fades out of the plot in the last ten minutes of the film. Perhaps there are some deleted scenes somewhere...
That aside, there`s really a whole lot to like about THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT. I really think it has what it takes to be a sleeper hit, and it brought down the house at the Sundance screening I attended. Hopefully, unlike the similarly great Focus- Sundance pickup, HAMLET 2, it will find an audience.