The Kids Are All Right opened in New York and Los Angeles on July 9. More theaters nationwide were added on July 23. It went into wider release on July 30, including theaters on Delmarva, playing in Wilmington, Rehoboth Beach, Salisbury and Ocean City for limited dates. Check www.fandango.com and www.movietickets.com for show times and to order online.
The title of this movie might refer to the 1966 song by Pete Townshend of the British rock group, The Who, but, if this film references any kind of music from yesteryear, it references Joni Mitchell's "Blue" album. That album's lyrics certainly play an integral role in this movie and perhaps the album's themes do as well.
Annette Bening, as Nic, a middle-aged woman who's the mother of two teenagers, a brother and sister, sings the Joni Mitchell's lyrics. She does so in the middle of a dinner table filled with people. She does so perhaps because she's had one too many glasses of wine, but she does so more to try to connect or reach out.
The dinner was in fact an olive branch from Nic. Some distance formed between her family and she. It was self-created distance but distance that she now didn't want. Nic is a lesbian whose children came to her via artificial insemination. When her children introduced the man who was their sperm donor, a man who Nic has never met or never even thought about for 18 years, Nic doesn't like him.
Everyone else in her family, the two children and Jules, her wife, do like him. Everybody likes the sperm donor except Nic. This creates not only distance but also tension between Nic and her family. So, yes, the dinner is Nic's olive branch, her peace offering to bridge the gap.
Mark Ruffalo (Shutter Island and Zodiac) plays Paul, the sperm donor. Based on his initial meeting with Nic, it's clear that he and Nic are not going to hit it off. Paul is into organic foods. He rides a motorcycle. He's scruffy and kind of hippie-ish. He dropped out of college. He's all these things that Nic doesn't think are attractive.
Julianne Moore (Boogie Nights and The Hours) plays Jules, Nic's wife who, despite being a lesbian, does find Paul attractive. She shares a few of his qualities or at first she thinks she does. She works as a landscape designer for him. It may be a spoiler alert, but, it gets to a point where Jules and Paul start to have an affair. Moore and Ruffalo had an interesting chemistry in their previous film Blindness (2008), which they have more fun with here.
Now, while the premise is that of two children discovering their sperm donor father, the film becomes less about the children getting to know him and more about the affair. Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland) and Josh Hutcherson (Bridge to Terabithia) play the children, Joni and Laser, respectively, and besides the initial meeting, there aren't that many scenes between Paul and his children.
Writer-director Lisa Cholodenko crafts some personal moments, some I'm sure echo moments in Cholodenko's own life. She along with her great cast present very interesting characters in one of the most unique situations you'll see in a movie all year, and certainly not in a film as warmly comedic as this one.
Yes, Cholodenko paints a great picture of a solid family consisting of gay parents that mainstream cinema has not yet seen. I appreciated it and I think the film is worth seeing for that fact alone. However, there is the question about Jules' affair with Paul. Some might ask how a lesbian- a woman is sexually attracted to other women- could have sex with a man so easily.
Cholodenko throws in a line about how human sexuality is fluid, but, in a world where people think homosexuality is a choice and thus can be discriminated against, Cholodenko's fluidity doesn't sit well here. Either you're gay or you're not. Jules' character didn't identify as bisexual, so what's with the fluidity?
Four Stars out of Five Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and teen drug use Running Time: 1 hr. and 44 mins.