Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and some teen drug and alcohol use, 106 minutes
"The Kids Are Right": intelligent, satisfying dramedy
"The Kids Are All Right" is a superbly acted, warm dramedy about a contemporary family facing some unique challenges. It also features two of today's best actresses in superb turns as a lesbian couple in Southern California whose children meet up with their biological father. "The Kids Are All Right" is one of the year's best films and will likely end up with many accolades for its acting, writing and directing.
The story centers on a lesbian couple, entrepreneur Jules (Julianne Moore) and Nic (Annette Bening), a doctor, who each gave birth to a child using the same anonymous sperm donor. When the older child, Joni ("Alice in Wonderland's" Mia Wasikowska), turns eighteen, her brother Laser (Josh Hutcherson of "Bridge to Terabithia"), asks her to contact the sperm bank in order to meet their biological father, Paul (Mark Ruffalo). They begin an unconventional relationship with him as they spend more time with him; the mom's, especially Nic, are reluctant at first but eventually warm to the idea. As Paul is welcomed into the family, they face some unexpected challenges along the way that could threathen their modern family unit.
"The Kids Are All Right" is a glowing, poignant and amusing portrait of an unconventional family facing some of the same age-old challenges we all face. The low-budget independently made dramedy benefits from a believable script and direction from Lisa Cholodenko ("Laurel Canyon") and an excellent cast who generates some electric chemistry. As the caring moms, both Moore and especially Bening give Oscar-worthy, believable and touching performances; Bening is the uptight overprotective one, and Moore is the relaxed hippie-chick who doesn't let things bother her as much.
Wasikowska gives a strong performance as the daughter about to go off to college, and the always likable Ruffalo is used to good effect as a handsome, sensitive restauranteur who becomes involved in the family. Hutcherson, in his first serious, sizable turn, is also good in an underdeveloped role. He should continue to develop into a decent actor in strong films such as this.
Moore is luminous, Bening is simply wonderful and their on-screen chemistry together make them a great pairing. Both are smart actresses and it's a crime that these ladies have been nominated, but never won an Oscar. Bening is the stronger actress, but they play off each other beautifully, and both have the ability to use their faces and little dialogue to subtly communicate emotions and ideas.
Some of "The Kids Are All Right" seems a little too new-agey let's hug-it-out and cry at times but the poignancy is wholly plausible and all the actors make it a worthwhile, satisfying venture. Some angles are a little too predictable, especially in Moore and Ruffalo's relationship, but it's a minor flaw. "The Kids Are All Right" is enjoyable, amusing and superbly acted and written, and well worth a look.