Academy Award Nominees
- Actor in a Supporting Role: Mark Ruffalo in “The Kids Are All Right”
- Actress in a Leading Role: Annette Benning in “The Kids Are All Right”
- Writing (Original Screenplay): “The Kids Are All Right” Written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
Annette Bening and Julianne Moore in The Kids Are All Right
The Kids Are All Right is an interesting story that deals with ordinary life in a not so ordinary household. When you are raising two teenagers in a lesbian home, eventually there are questions. In this case, the son, Laser played by Josh Hutcherson, becomes curious about his biological father, only to find out with the help of his older sister, Joni played by Mia Wasikowska, that his father is sperm from a sperm bank.
As is turns out both mothers, Nic and Jules, Annette Bening and Julianne Moore respectively, each of which had one of the children in the relationship by the same biological father. Since Laser is under age, it falls to his older sister to request information from the authorities, as well as to help Laser misappropriate some of the information they want.
The teens hunt down their biological father, Paul played by Mark Ruffalo, and start to get to know him with interesting consequences. Jules finds herself attracted to him sexually, Nic is jealous of his budding relationship with “her” children, and the kids draw him into their family circle, while Paul finds himself part of a family that he had never envisioned.
Mark Ruffalo in The Kids Are All Right
Mark Ruffalo does a great job playing the father, taking everything that comes at him in a fairly good natured way, even as he finds himself falling for Jules. Even though the film shows a surprisingly open family situation for a short time, the situation blows up when Nic and the kids find out that Jules is having an affair. Also predictably, the entire family turns against the outsider, Mark Ruffalo, and unites to protect the family unit.
I suppose this is where the movie really fell apart for me. I expected better of these characters.
[ad name=”Google Adsense-bottom”] Paul never asked to be part of the family, but rather was dragged into having a relationship with this conglomerate of slightly off-centered individuals. It left a terrible taste in my mouth when he is ostracized and left out of everything to do with the family at the end of The Kids Are All Right. All it would have taken was one short scene to repair the damage. If the writers had had the daughter make a call from college and say that she had gotten there in one piece; that she would perhaps drop him a note or call once in awhile; for me, THEN the kids would be all right. Instead, I was left feeling they were worse off for losing this man who had become an unique and important part of all their lives.
For me, the end of this film ruined a great film experience. The writers fell back on conventional relationship patterns, perhaps trying to show that a lesbian relationship is just as fragile as a heterosexual one. I would have liked it so much better if the writers had reached just a little further from their comfort zones to imagine what would happen, if this time, the couple or at least the children (since they’re the focus of The Kids Are All Right) were better than the average person, and could transend the “normal” reactions to find a harmony were everyone was still included in the circle of the family, rather like Woody Allen recently did in Whatever Works.
I guess I don’t understand why we still have such difficulty dealing with and accepting mixed and non-traditional households. Straight, gay, step-parents, step-children, traditional stay at home moms, working parents, stay at home dads; why can’t we just accept them all as part of an amazingly rich family quilt? Perhaps, one day, we actually will.
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