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The Kids Are All Right (2010)

A 2010 movie directed by Lisa Cholodenko.

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Lesbians Raising Children

  • Jul 3, 2010
"The Kids Are All Right"

Lesbians Raising Children

Amos Lassen

Nic and Jules are a middle-aged lesbian couple raising two teenagers, Joni and Laser in suburban Los Angeles. All went fine until Joni listens to Laser and decides to find out about her biological father. She investigates, calls the sperm bank who puts her in touch with Paul who is willing to meet the kids that he never knew were his. Paul comes to visit and all "hell breaks loose" as the family is thrown into a state of disarray.
Annette Bening and Julianne Moore play Nic and Jules. This comfortable Southern California family has got problems like any other. Nic is a driven, sharp-edged doctor who uses a little too much red wine to relax. Jules is somewhat insecure and can't get a career in gear. Joni (Mia Wasikowska) is an A student and about to leave for college. She feels the strain of high expectations. Fifteen year old Laser (Josh Hutcherson) doesn't even realize how much he's been missing a fatherly presence until he and Joni (without telling their moms find their biological ''donor dad,'' Paul (Mark Ruffalo), a loose and groovy, handsome bachelor restaurateur. Hold on because we are headed for a bumpy ride.
Bening, Moore, and Ruffalo are excellent in this irresistible story of lesbian marriage, sperm-donor fatherhood, sex, red wine, and teen angst. This is a very funny, sexy, smart movie that dissolves the boundaries between specialized ''gay content'' and universal ''family content'' and does so in a sneaky way. Director Lisa Cholodenko and her co-writer, Stuart Blumberg use the components of dramatic comedy to cross boundaries with style.
The screenplay is intelligent and the characters are wonderfully created and acted. Annette Bening really shines with her performance and is tremendously emotionally expressive. She uses physical authenticity as a source of dramatic strength and is so comfortable in her own skin that she is totally at ease inhabiting the body and exposing the soul of Nic, a complicated woman who also knows exactly who she is.
This movie is loaded with energy that it maintains throughout. It was a hit at this year's Sundance Film Festival and has received praise for the way that it looks an alternative family. There's chemistry between Annette Bening and Julianne Moore. They are a very believable, charming couple of middle age lesbians who have clearly had a good, long relationship and are focused on raising their kids who are also excellent actors.
The Kids Are All Right is a sweet film that plays relatively fast and loose with sexuality, but never loses focus on the core story. It is a richly drawn portrait of a very modern family that is grounded, imperfect and told with a very keen eye from the director who keep the story moving as she shows the vulnerable nature of each character as they give us some great comedy. We see shouting, tears, hugs, and suspenseful questions of forgiveness and reconciliation right up to the moment when the family car is unpacked at the college dormitory. Our characters are like any people in a long-lived relationship who are taking the next big step together into growing up. Isn't that what life is all about?

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More The Kids Are All Right reviews
review by . July 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Way Better than All Right
THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT   Written by Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg   Directed by Lisa Cholodenko   Starring Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, Josh Hutcherson and Mark Ruffalo      Joni: Each of my mom’s used your sperm.   Paul: As in two? As in both of them?   Joni: Uh-huh, as in gay.      I don’t know if anyone has told you this already but family can be fairly complicated.  …
review by . July 08, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A few weeks ago, Entertainment Weekly ran a story about how box office numbers are down and it's quite possibly because the quality of movies is down. This, of course, was before Toy Story 3 came out and was both fantastic and hugely successful. One of the points in the EW article was that, at this point last year, five of the ten eventual Best Picture nominees had already been released, including the eventual winner. This year, no movie had yet come out which had any prayer of being nominated. …
review by . November 04, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
      A lesbian couple raising two kids conceived by artificial insemination is pretty much a definition of "unconditional family"... But how things will turn when the children will want to meet their "distant father" the sperm donor? This movie might give the answers you're looking for. It's a very nice build story... the characters are well developed and there's no ridiculous emotional process that they go through. It's an liberating and …
review by . July 13, 2010
"The Kids are All Right" is one of the most honest and intelligent films about family, relationships, and the institution of marriage you're likely to see or have ever seen. That the central characters are a lesbian couple doesn't matter in the slightest. Director/co-writer Lisa Cholodenko doesn't sermonize about homophobia or civil unions or moral values, but rather presents a sincere, complex, and universal portrayal an American family - imperfect and at times highly turbulent, but still loving …
review by . December 31, 2010
is a story of two kids raised by a lesbian couple who then contact their sperm donor - or dad. I wouldn't call this a romantic comedy - it's certainly doesn't utilize the many jokes that could apply to such a situation. Rather, it's more of a romantic drama. As the story progresses, each character finds gaping emotional voids in their lives. While at first the reunion seems to go smoothly, some people might be getting along a bit too well.    The acting in The Kids Are All Right …
review by . August 23, 2010
THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT has been heaped with praise from critics, including significant talk of Oscar nominations. The entire time I was watching the film, I couldn't help but wonder if at least some of that stemmed purely from a need to praise a film for showing a "normal" lesbian family...regardless of the quality of the film. I know viewers (or even just people who read a description of the film) who have problems with gay issues will no doubt bristle at this film and its efforts to "push an agenda." …
About the reviewer
Amos Lassen ()
Ranked #208
I am an academic who reivews movies and books of interest to the GLBT and Jewish communities.   I came to Arkansas after having been relocated here due to Hurricane Katrina. I was living in … more
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About this movie


If the relationships that anchor Lisa Cholodenko's warmly funny films appear unconventional, their problems--their pleasures--remain universal. InThe Kids Are All Right(no relation to the Who documentary), she takes on a suburban Los Angeles family with two teens, Joni (Alice in Wonderland's Mia Wasikowska) and the unfortunately named Laser (Josh Hutcherson,The Bridge to Terabithia), and two mothers, Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (an atypically relaxed Julianne Moore), who conceived via artificial insemination. Now that she's heading off to college, Laser urges 18-year-old Joni to seek out their birth father, who lives in the area (her name comes from folksinger Mitchell). Though she hits it off with Paul (Mark Ruffalo, effortlessly charming), a motorcycle-riding restaurant owner, Laser has his doubts (troublingly, the 15-year-old's best friend uses "faggot" as an all-purpose epithet). After they introduce Paul to their parents, allegiances start to shift. While Nic, a doctor, serves as breadwinner (and disciplinarian), Jules, a homemaker-turned-landscape artist, provides the nurturing. Paul, on the other hand, lives free from attachments, inciting both curiosity and suspicion. Furthermore, Jules finds him strangely irresistible, which only expands the fissures in her loving, yet unstable union. As withLaurel Canyon, Cholodenko doesn't just create fully rounded characters, but entire communities. In the end,Kidsisn't about children vs. ...
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Director: Lisa Cholodenko
Genre: Drama
Release Date: July 9, 2010
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 106 minutes
Studio: Focus Features
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