Friday, July 9, 2010

Movie with Abe: The Kids Are All Right

The Kids Are All Right
Directed by Lisa Cholodenko
Released July 9, 2010

It’s hard to find a family comedy that’s truly a good, memorable movie. Fortunately, the summer usually provides one or two, and this summer’s first great comedy is here with “The Kids Are All Right,” the new film from director Lisa Cholodenko about a lesbian couple whose two teenage children decide it’s time they met the sperm donor their mothers used to give birth to them. What ensues isn’t a lewd romp stuffed full of cheap lesbian jokes, but rather a heartfelt and touching movie about less traditional relationships and how they can still function just as well.

Without a doubt, the best asset of “The Kids Are All Right” is the smart casting that went into molding this family unit. At the forefront of the family are Annette Bening and Julianne Moore as lesbian moms Nic and Jules. Both are wonderful actresses who have a long list of accomplishments on their resumes, and this film should be swiftly added to the already impressive collections. Bening is playing a version of the kind of role she played in “American Beauty” and this May’s “Mother and Child,” a stubborn, controlling woman who just doesn’t quite know how to let her emotions show through. It’s a part that Bening knows how to play well, but here she adds a delightful comedic touch aided by a fantastic chemistry with Moore, who lets herself looser than she’s ever been without going too far. The two make a marvelous couple and a formidable team.

This is a great case of kids actually being played by kids, as the young actors who portray Nic and Jules’ children are only a couple of years older than the ages they actually play. Josh Hutcherson does a decent job as son Laser, even if the part is the least fleshed-out of all the roles in the film. Mia Wasikowska continues to demonstrate her immense range, after breaking out in “In Treament” several years ago and turning in great performances in last year’s “That Evening Sun” and as the titular character in “Alice in Wonderland.” Mark Ruffalo rounds out the cast as Paul, the free spirit and newly present sperm donor who forges a surprising connection with his offspring. This is a textbook example of how ensemble casts should function without adding in too many supporting characters or favoring any one character over another.

The film that “The Kids Are All Right” begs the most comparison to is last year’s “It’s Complicated,” a free, fun comedy with a few big stars that doesn’t have an inflated ego but rather a nice, relaxed feel. Meryl Streep’s performance in the latter film seems like she’s playing herself, and while Bening and Moore are clearly playing characters not quite like themselves, the same welcoming, intimate feeling is present. “The Kids Are All Right” provides the opportunity to get up close and personal with the members of a family, and most importantly, to have a good time and enjoy some great laughs in the process.



Greg Boyd said...

I'm so jealous. This is in very limited release, and I don't live very close to an art-house. Fortunately, Annette Bening and Julianne Moore would seem to guarantee a wide release at some point, don't you think?

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