Curiosity is not a crime (although I hear it’s killed a cat or two), but it can have some pretty dire consequences. In “The Kids Are All Right” one family of four suffers from the repercussions of some curious choices.
In this beautifully simple comedy, directed and co-written by Lisa Cholodenko, we enter the imperfect, yet comfortingly routine world of a mostly average middle class family.
This film has everything you’d expect from a California comedy…wine glasses in hand, Crate and Barrel decor, and an uncomplicated plot line.
Here’s the twist, these characters are real. Even in their most heated moments nothing is over the top or overly tragic.
Nic (Annette Bening) is a straight-laced, slightly over-protective doctor, while Jules (Julianne Moore) is a bit more of a free spirit who’s just decided to break into the landscaping market.
“The Moms,” as their children, Laser (Josh Hutcherson) and Joni (Mia Wasikowska), like to call them, are as mis-matched as you can imagine and that’s exactly what makes this couple, married for more than 20 years, perfect for each other.
It’s the summer before their elder child, Joni, leaves for college and at the request of Laser, the two kids go in search of their mothers’ sperm donor, and consequently the biological father of these half-siblings.
Paul (Mark Ruffalo), who turns out to own his own organic restaurant nearby, is not exactly what Laser had in mind and so much more than Joni expected when the two first meet him.
When Nic and Jules are brought in on the secret, the jury remains equally split. Paul’s hippie, laid back organic restaurant ways are intriguing to Jules and off-putting to Nic.
What follows is a whirlwind of getting past first impressions, planting, plotting, drinking, and heterosexual infidelity.
I’m not one for spoiling endings so I’ll leave it at that.
What makes this film memorable are the incredible yet familiar relationships it presents. Bening and Moore serve as a spellbinding and talented foundation for this family and cast.
Much like the family it is centered on “The Kids Are All Right” is a contradiction of multi-dimensional simplicity and extraordinary character.
It’s not flashy or gag-ridden. It’s funny on its own merits and equally sentimental.
In the end, the wine glasses are still in place, the Crate and Barrel decor is still stunning, and the plot line remains uncomplicated.
We don’t know what’s going to happen. Yet, the strength of these characters leaves us with the feeling that everyone, much like the kids, is going to be all right.