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The Kids Are Alright

March 20, 2011

Eh, the kids are O.K.

I guess I went on a tiny Oscar nominee movie pattern after watching The Kings Speech. I actually went back and re-watched The Fighter, The Social Network, Animal Kingdom (which I cannot recommend enough, please go see this amazing movie), and Point Break (okay, it was made in 1991, but let’s be honest, this movie should be nominated and win best picture every year). I told you I watch a lot of movies… Anyway, I picked this movie up and watched it with my girlfriend because it had been nominated. I also think Mark Ruffalo is a seriously underrated actor and I hope he gets more clout and respect in Hollywood. I also hope that when he plays The Hulk in the upcoming Avengers movie (which has every awesome actor in Hollywood in it), the role doesn’t throw his career off track like it did for Eric Bana and Edward Norton. I mean, The Time Travelers Wife? Come on Eric, you can do better then that. Off track again, where was I? Oh yes, The Kids Are Alright. Besides for Mr. Ruffalo, this film also stars Annette Bening and Julianne Moore (you probably realized that they were in it from their giant names on the poster. Think the font’s big enough?). The highly acclaimed  and  versatile actresses play a lesbian couple with two children living in some extremely hippie part of California. Nic (Bening) is a surgeon who supports the family, while Jules’ (Moore) businesses continue to flounder. They have a loving relationship, but it is by no means perfect. Besides for the stress they have between them about who is the breadwinner or which of them is the more responsible parent, they also are having some problems in the bedroom. Having their kids overhear the gay porn they are watching is probably the biggest buzz kill ever.

Their children were born (?), brought by stork (no), created (?), both popped out of a test tube (check) after their mothers picked a batch of sperm from one single donor. But by now the kids have grown up, developed personalities and sensitivities. Joni is Nic’s biological daughter, while Laser is Jules’ biological son. This is never clearly stated in the movie, but the kids’ subtle different in treatments to their moms and slightly different attitudes reflects each parent in their own right. Joni is played by Mia Masikowska, who’s turn as Alice in Tim Burton’s pretty terrible Alice In Wonderland was disappointing. But she makes up for it here as a graduating high school senior, who, like so many kids in high school, is curious and can’t actually be defined by any specific group. It ain’t The Breakfast Club anymore in most high schools. Up and coming actor Josh Hutcherson takes the role of the rebellious, skating/athletic younger brother. This kid has the appeal of Hollywood and I would guess will be getting work for a while. The siblings play well off each other, even though they look nothing a like.

 

Oh, the John Hughes good old days, when everyone had their clique and didn't have to be a hipster

But now that Joni is about to graduate, she thinks it’s about that time to find out where her moms found the  y-chromosome they needed. After surprisingly extremely little digging, and unbeknownst to her moms, she find his phone number and calls her father. Enter Paul (Ruffalo), a beatnik, motorcycle driving, organic restaurant owning, extremely promiscuous, and a newly extremely confused father of two. The kids end up meeting up with him, and each has their own reaction to him. He’s obviously not what they expected, but then again what did they expect? Both sides seem like they are ready to except this situation and try to make it work. Even Paul seems somewhat moved. But then again, he also seems like it could just be the next thing on the long road of life.

But theres still one problem. And that is the married lesbian couple who don’t know their kids have been chilling with their real, extremely straight, biological daddy. It all eventually comes out in another awkward but really funny seen in which the mothers believe and suggest to their son that he is gay. So once the jig is up, it’s time to meet up and start a true vision of the new American family.

 

The nuclear family has officially gone nuclear

One, big, happy, lesbian, straight, biologically created, family, right? Well, turns out that a single, rugged, good looking guy thrown in between sexually frustrated lesbians with very different dispositions is not the best thing for the relationship. As the kids get closer and closer with their new dad/friend, Nic feels further and further away from her family, which in turn puts her closer and closer to the bottom of multiple wine bottles. Paul is also quick to accept Jules’ offer to help him with some landscaping for his garden, her first job in her new business after a long line of failed ones. He’s even quicker to reintroduce her to the straight life as they almost immediately forget the garden completely. And so, as you may imagine, trouble ensues in SoCal. Annette Bening has an amazing turn in the third act that was worthy of an Oscar nom. Julianne Moore tends to be very hit or mis with me (Children of Men: Hit, The Big Lebowski: Amazing, Next: Miss times infinity). She was somewhere in between in this one. But the awesomely awkward gardner she works with makes up for it. The Kids Are Alright isn’t a perfect film, but it is fun, realistic, and funny. The characters are well defined and it shows us that no matter whether the relationship is ‘traditional’ or not, problems, solutions, ups, downs, pain, and joy are always in the cards. Plus there’s a pretty good soundtrack…

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