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The Kids Are All Right (2010)

A 2010 movie directed by Lisa Cholodenko.

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Way Better than All Right

  • Jul 10, 2010

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.  Take Nic and Jules (Annette Bening and Julianne Moore) for example.  They’ve been together for about 20 years and have two teenage children, one of which (Mia Wasikowska) is about to head off to college.  The other (Josh Hutcherson) is somewhat aimless in his adolescent life and decides he needs to know more about where he came from.  More specifically, he wants to meet the man who supplied the sperm that made both him and his sister possible.  Enter Mark Ruffalo and along with him a disaster of familial proportion.

THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT is the fourth film by Lisa Cholodenko, who has regularly explored the nature of complicated relationships and what happens to them when those involved make mistakes they know could crumble their foundations.  Deciding to meet sperm donor, Paul (Ruffalo), is not that mistake.  His introduction into this family’s life though certainly seems to have given all its members free reign to act out.  Naturally, his emergence puts Nic and Jules into a tailspin and how they each approach the situation exposes some of the couple’s deeper issues.  Bening and Moore play the couple so perfectly, you can feel a palpable sense of unbalance in the way they treat each other and an urgency to survive.  It’s as though years of experiences, both great and harrowing, have been worked into their collective performances.

While Nic and Jules struggle with feelings of inadequacy and replacement, their kids, Joni and Laser (Wasikowska and Hutcherson) try hard to see themselves in Paul.  When all three sit to talk for the first time, it is apparent that both nature and nurture played a part in the two kids’ growth.  The delicate nature of the introduction is almost lost on the kids because they simply don’t know better.  They don’t know that you can go from relating to feeling completely alien in a matter of seconds and that when that happens with the father you never met, the damage can be severe.  In their innocence, they thought they wanted something but could never have truly prepared for what they got.  And the same can be said for Paul.  The potential of family woos him into thinking his life is empty and it isn’t long before he tries any way he can to latch on.  Ruffalo is the consummate boy pretending he can be a real man.

Cholodenko has learned to breathe in the six years since her last feature.  THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT is like a breeze with a bit of a bite on the back end.  As awkward and troubling as all these interactions are, they pass by smoothly and make for a refreshing film – one where a fantastic cast portray real people with equally real problems that deal with them like a good family should, with sensitivity, solidarity and a little humour to keep the mood light.  Yes, the kids are all right but the movie is even better.

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August 09, 2010
Wow I'm surprised actually; the previews didn't look interesting to me, but your take on it sounds pretty interesting - not sure if it's my kind of movie, but at least I am more open-minded about it!! Nice review!!
August 09, 2010
Thanks for reading. Essentially, if you like a good indie dramedy with strong characters, then you can't go wrong with this one.
July 10, 2010
Nice review! I was somewhat curious about this and I like your take on it. I will feature this shortly...Thanks again, man!
July 10, 2010
Thanks .. definitely worth checking out. I might see it again soon.
More The Kids Are All Right reviews
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 . July 03, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
"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 …
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
Joseph Belanger ()
Ranked #24
Hello Lunchers. I am a thirty-something guy making his way in Toronto. I am a banker by day and a film critic the rest of the time. Sensitive, sharp and sarcastic are just a few words that start with … 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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