Creating the world around them rather than reflecting it, is nothing new in Hollywood movies, and the Kids Are All Right is no exception. A contradictory mix of a same sex nontraditional family and traditional family values, this married lesbians with kids dramedy seems to want to have its conservative cake and eat it liberally too. Meanwhile, all sorts of elephants in the room having to do with the conflicts and stresses experienced by gays in the first place or by those being raised by them, get the strictly silent treatment.
Julianne Moore and Annette Bening are Jules and Nic, a long married lesbian Southern California suburban couple with possibly the most pleasant and raging hormone-free teenagers in movie history. Joni (Mia Wasikowska) – whose mother is Nic, has just turned eighteen, and her younger brother Laser (Josh Hutcherson) – the offspring of Jules, is eager to track down the sperm donor dad the half-siblings share. But since he isn’t old enough to do so, he pressures Joni into contacting the sperm bank instead.
The impressive dude they’re both delighted to discover without much red tape, is Paul (Mark Ruffalo), a carefree party animal bachelor kinda guy who cruises around on his motorcycle, when not tending to his organic restaurant stocked with veggies he raises himself. And while Mom and Mom fret about this new male center of attention stranger thrust into their lives, Paul couldn’t be more thrilled to discover a pair of terrific children of his own that he never had to bother raising.
But the family is threatened with being torn apart when perky underachiever Jules, who tends to be demeaned by pouting control freak Nic, a physician and the family breadwinner, is drawn sexually to a far from uninterested Paul. And who happens to display a whole lot more appreciation for her untapped talents, than her disparaging partner back home. So ensues the classic extra-marital affair, except for a not exactly minor detail. Jules abruptly backs out of the steamy tryst after insisting she’s an orthodox lesbian, even though there was no doubt about just how hot the sex on display was, that played out on screen.
The Kids Are All Right stakes out its story around a nontraditional, too picture-perfect gay family, whose biggest problem in life seems to be a heterosexual male in their midst. And one seemingly set up unfairly to take a hit, while not a single divisive social issue rears its invisible head all around them. And it’s ultimately the knockout performances of this convincing cast so passionately dedicated to some fairly awkward material, that salvages this story from a couple of contrived plot points demonizing heterosexuality, in an otherwise problem-free world.
2 1/2 [out of 4] stars