Monday, July 26, 2010

Family Matters

In the film The Kids Are All Right, a married couple is shaken up when their teenage children decide to seek out the sperm donor who fathered them. That the married couple is a lesbian couple adds another layer to the plot, but one of the standout features of this film is how matter-of-factly this is treated. And as played by Annette Bening and Julianne Moore, gracefully and naturally, this couple is one of the most normal, down-to-earth, relatable couples on screen in a long time — flaws and all.

The Kids Are All Right is that kind of movie; what might seem on its surface to be a "message movie" about how even lesbians can successfully raise children is just at its heart a movie about a family — any family — dealing with an unexpected circumstance. And heart is the key word here, since writer/director Lisa Cholodenko has imbued the film with plenty of it (Stuart Blumberg co-wrote the screenplay). Rounding out the cast are Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska (much better here than in Alice in Wonderland), and Josh Hutcherson, all of whom are wonderful.

In a summer full of bombast, The Kids Are All Right is notable not just because it's a well-made movie, but because it's the rare film that without gimmick, mockery, or heavy-handedness shows how important family is, and trusts that audiences will get that message no matter what type of family it is. I'm giving The Kids Are All Right an A–.



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