"The Kids Are All Right" DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review

11/15/2010 Posted by Admin

"The Kids Are All Right"

DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review

Directed by Lisa Cholodenko, written by Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg, 104 minutes, rated R.

By Christopher Smith

Lisa Cholodenko's dramedy, "The Kids Are All Right," features a story that's about as complex as they come. It's funny, it's human, it pushes boundaries plenty still refuse to face, it challenges those boundaries, it supports them and then it tries to destroy them while also making an effort to understand them.

Simply due to its subject, some with vilify it without seeing it. Their loss. Others with open minds will seek it out and understand why they'll be hearing more about this movie come awards season. The performances are that good, but what else would you expect from this cast?

The film is about two lesbians in a long-term committed relationship, their relationships with their two teenage children, and their new relationship with their former sperm donor, Paul (Mark Ruffalo), who runs a rustic restaurant and who enters their lives unexpectedly.

At least he does for Jules (Julianne Moore) and Nic (Annette Bening). The same can't be said for their son and daughter, 18-year-old Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and 15-year-old Laser (Josh Hutcherson), who make a phone call that causes all sorts of unrest.

Since Joni and Laser are Paul's offsprings (Nic had one child, Jules the other), they're half-siblings. They also are of the age in which their curious about their lineage. Since Joni is an adult, she's allowed to ask the donor agency if they will tell her who donated their mothers' sperm. If Paul agrees to come forward, they'll meet their biological father. Naturally, he does so--and off goes the story, riding along rails that are at once unique to this family, and absolutely familiar to all families.

That's the thing about "The Kids Are All Right"--it doesn't make an issue of the fact that it's focus is on a gay couple. Nic and Jules could be any couple doing their best to raise two reasonably happy, often difficult, well-adjusted and wholly annoying teens. Growing pains are experienced here, but not just by Joni and Laser. Jules and Nic are so deep into their relationship, they're experiencing some growing pains of their own, the lot of which is amplified by Paul, who complicates the film considerably.

What's admirable about "Kids" is that Cholodenko doesn't trying to homogenize Nic and Jules' relationship. Though she uses humor in her film--the script is often funny--she doesn't use it as a device to manipulate audiences into feeling more at ease with gay relationshipa. She doesn't coddle them with laughter. She doesn't use humor as a means to create faux tolerance.

That's the great cliche in so many films and television shows that attempt to tackle gay issues--make audiences laugh at the stereotypes, and all is well. But here, the humor stems from the characters' idiosyncracies. It informs us about them. What we have here are two complex women who are in love, have a family, share a bed, and who are working through their own share of issues.

Throughout, the performance are fresh, natural, dark and alive. Bening is terrific as Nic, the controling doctor who likes her wine almost as much as she likes her arguments. Moore is in full flight mode, in which she thrives, though this movie has enough depth to allow her to crash--and hard. As for Ruffallo, he's as charming as you expect, until that charm goes too far for the wome in question. And when that happens, he's reduced to being just a flawed human being, just like the rest of them.

In a world where pop culture shields us from the truth, this movie is something of a novelty. It isn't afraid to tell it.

Grade: A-

View the trailer for "The Kids Are All Right" below. What did you think of the movie?

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