The Kids are All Right, at first glance, may appear to be a film we've seen an innumerable amount of times attempting to veil its generic core by presenting viewers with two lesbian lead characters. While it's a move that, even in 2010, may draw your attention, The Kids Are All Right quickly reveals that its more than a reupholstered middling offering.
Surprisingly, The Kids Are All Right doesn't focus on the hardships presented to a family with homosexual parents. Instead, The Kids focuses its attention on the sperm donner who, through his generous donation of semen, helped enable the family the film centers around.
Nic (Annette Bening
) and Jules's (Julianne Moore
) children, eighteen year-old Joni ( Mia Wasikowska
) and fifteen year-old Laser (Josh Hutcherson
), are victims of curiosity. After obtaining information regarding their biological father, the three set-up a meeting behind the backs of Nic and Jules. While the subsequent events are rather predictable to say the least, its the relationships and bonds that make The Kids Are All Right an immediate stand-out.
From the get-go, it becomes clear that the perfectionist doctor Nic and the rambuntious stay-at-home mother Jules are two polar opposites. Jules's laid back attitude often interferes with Nic's no nonsense decision making--a problem that is certainly not limited to this particular couple. However, it's clear that this dynamic, while seemingly destructive, is one the two are comfortable with, despite the inevitable complications. But, wills, patience and understanding are all tested when Paul (Mark Ruffalo
), the sperm donor, becomes a relevant part of Joni and Laser's lives. It's a welcomed game-changer that helps you further understand the presented relationships and believable emotions and motives of the relateable characters. These relationships can't be understated. While The Kids could no doubt survive simply as a family drama, it's the interweving connections Lisa Cholodenko
so masterfully creates that pushes the film beyond mediocrity.
Things certainly get awkward.
These relationships don't go untested and, as viewers, we wouldn't want them to. The film earns its keep by constantly removing characters from their comfort-zone and testing their understanding and the bonds they once considered impenetrable. How does Nic react when she discovers her college-bound daughter has taken a liking to her drop-out, care free sperm donor? How does Laser rebound when he discovers that he and Paul, the man he's longed to meet for years, have little in common? Its these small instances shape the bigger the problems at play; the instances that send the family to its breaking-point.
This isn't a movie without flaws, though. Those aforementioned "predictable events" keep the film from excelling to the point it clearly could have. This may be a fresh take on a used up formula, but, make no mistake, you've seen these events play out an incredible amount of times.
With so few faults, it's a shame that The Kids Are All Right's biggest lies in its overarching story. While it's something that, in the long run, keeps The Kids Are All RIght from reaching its full potential, the dynamic characters and intricate relationships that form the film's crux make it a gem in a genre littered with mediocrity.