Friday, March 16, 2012

Movie Review: The Kids Are All Right

I realize that I am about two years too late to be reviewing this movie.  However, I watched it a couple of days ago, and felt that I really wanted to share my opinion of it.

First off, I was really drawn to this movie because of the idea of a fully functional, well-established gay household.  The lesbian characters Nic and Jules in the movie are just like any other committed, heterosexual couple, and I found this to be very refreshing.  I am a big believer that acceptance comes through not yelling about our differences, but by also accepting what makes us similar.  Nic and Jules fight, struggle with their sex life, have awkward conversations with their kids, and dine with friends, like the completely "normal" couple that they are.  Annette Bening (Nic) and Julianne Moore (Jules) give a phenomenal performance.

Of course, part of what makes them a "normal" family is the equally amazing performance by Mia Wasikowska (Joni) and Josh Hutcherson (Laser) as the couple's teenage kids.  Joni is in the difficult position of a girl going to college, stuck in her parental relationship between dependent child and equally intellectual adult.  In a similar position, I found her character well played and easily relatable.  Wasikowska is definitely an actress to keep an eye on in the future.  Laser is in a difficult position as the only boy in an overwhelmingly female household, struggling to find who he is.  Hutcherson's performance is mainly through facial expressions and body language that are, although distinctly teenage-boy, evidence of his longing to find his own place in the world.

Last but not least, Mark Ruffalo stuns in his role as Paul.  To be honest, I wasn't expecting much from him, but I was wrong.  He manages to be sexy and mysteriously without trying, clueless and yet touching at the same time.  And, although he was an endearing character, I am glad that he was not (spoiler alert!) welcomed back into the family at the end.  I am also glad that the movie leaves Nic and Jules' big fight unresolved.  It's clear that they're on the path to forgiveness and recovery, but their future is not wrapped up in a nice, neat bow.

Again, this is a beautifully acted, refreshingly real depiction of the struggles of being a family.  For those of you skeptical about the fact that it is about a lesbian couple, do not worry.  Once you get to the heart of the story, you won't even notice.

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