I ended up seeing The Kids Are All Right simply because I owed my fiance a movie in return for her very reluctantly agreeing to see The Human Centipede with me a little over a month ago. A movie about a lesbian couple whose children contact their biological father (and the sperm donor to both of their mothers) didn’t seem like my cup of tea, but I’m very glad I caught this one. Otherwise, I would have missed out on a very well-written and extremely well-acted movie that’s easily one of the best to be released this year. Trust me, I didn’t think that would be my reaction to The Kids Are All Right, but regardless of the subject matter, it’s an undeniably good film.
Julianne Moore and Annette Bening (Jules and Nic, respectively) are a married lesbian couple with two children, Joni and Laser (yes, Laser), Joni being Jules’s biological daughter and Laser being Nic’s biological son. The children have the same biological father, a man whose donated sperm Jules and Nic each used after coming together as a couple. Upon Joni’s 18th birthday, as a favor to her younger brother Laser, she arranges to contact her and Laser’s biological father.
Jules and Nic function just as any other couple would; that is to say with all the stresses and obligations that come along with marriage, working, and raising a family. Nic is doctor and spends too much time working for Jules’s liking, but she also provides for the family financially, making it difficult for Jules to object too often. Jules, on the other hand, is more spiritual than her regimented partner, but also has a difficult time maintaining her various business endeavors. The kids are regular kids, indistinguishable from kids raised by parents of opposite sexes. It’s not until Paul (Mark Ruffalo) starts forming a relationship with the kids and then, naturally, Jules and Nic, that the festering hostility between Jules and Nic becomes an unavoidable topic.
Like Jules, Paul is very much a free-spirit, opting to drop out of college to start his own restaurant. And although it was Laser who most wanted to meet their father, it’s Jules who takes a liking to Paul, and the two form a strong relationship. Of course, this makes things a tad awkward for Jules and Nic, but the situation becomes downright tempestuous when Jules and Paul start hanging out (Jules agrees, as part of her business, to do landscaping for Paul’s restaurant).
At its core, The Kids Are All Right is a movie about a family and the relationships within it. Whether you’re straight or gay, the issues that come up between Jules and Nic seem familiar and real. In fact, nearly everything in this movie feels genuine and the characters really do seem like real people, not mere projections from a cast of actors. And despite the somewhat serious nature of the movie, there are plenty of moments that are funny – and there are more than a few jokes involving the use of the tongue. Julianne Moore in particular is terrific as Jules; I will not be the least bit surprised if she’s nominated for Best Actress come awards season.
Look, I’m normally into science fiction and fantasy movies. If someone recommended to me that a movie about a family with two mothers would be worthwhile, I’d probably make a note of it and then forget about five minutes later. But The Kids Are All Right is excellent, regardless of what you’re into. Like I wrote above, it’s well-written and well-acted and at the end of the day a quality film about real people. I definitely lucked out that this was the movie my fiance picked as part of my “punishment” for making her watch The Human Centipede.
4.75 out of 5 stars