This movie wouldn’t have been made 25 years ago. It probably wouldn’t even had been made ten years ago.
The themes behind it can be found in countless movies throughout history…but the backdrop used here wouldn’t have been allowed to show itself so honestly in the era of “political correctness” of 2000-2001.
The Kids are Alright is a flick about surviving the dynamics within an unconventional family unit. More and more of these unconventional families are becoming the norm where it may come to the point where those currently deemed as conventional become unconventional.
But I take to task the stigma that follows the terms “conventional” and “unconventional”. Definition-wise: they are accurate. But realistically, one isn’t better than the other. Each can be as equally as supportive as the other in genuine and strong ways.
My point? The Kids are Alright is all about this.
A lesbian couple raises two children who were inseminated by the same sperm donor…the kids decide to track down their biological dad…and light-hearted hilarity ensues.
This is an ensemble piece where each are necessary to make this movie work.
The driving characters are the two kids, the eldest sister, Joni (Mia Wasikowsa of Alice in Wonderland fame) and her brother, Laser (Josh Hutcherson a part of the Red Dawn remake…OH YEAH!) who go in search for their biological father. Not really because they need a father in their lives but more out of idle teenage curiosity. Both are extremely level headed children who were raised with solid morals with no real need of anything more than their Momses provided to them. Considering the pitfalls of society, they could’ve ended up much worse:
Mark Ruffalo as Paul stands out particularly as the twenty-first century hippy throwback biological dad. He’s one of those characters who are so laid back…so ready to roll with the punches…that it may leave some envious and even frustrated that nothing bothers him. He is so aloof that his ease of life can sometimes appear disconnected yet he is engaged fully at every moment. His reaction to meeting his kids? “Cool. Let’s see where this goes.” (My paraphrase. Not his.) Ruffalo deserves his Oscar nod here and is one of the strongest contenders for Best Actor.
Annette Benning takes up her role as Nic, who reminded me so much of the her role as mom from American Beauty that I can’t ignore it. So much so that I would bet if you could trace a lifeline from the American Beauty mom to this one, it could be a logical progression after…well, the end of American Beauty…I refuse to spoil it if you’ve never seen it. So what I mean is that with all the commitment that Benning played the other mom, she throws into this character as well. As a reminder, here’s a little snippet from that classic American Beauty.
Both Nic and her character in American Beauty are both control freaks who are replacing what they’re missing with unwarranted aggression. Benning was robbed from being Best Actress during that season of the Oscars sadly I believe she will be again this year.
Following the same theme of American Beauty, Julianne Moore plays Benning’s partner, Jules, raising their kids together but Jules is a lost soul. She’s satisfied with who she’s ended up with but, like a wisp of cloud on a sea breeze, she wants to find her path in life. Her path leads her to Paul through her two children and she finds a momentary reprieve and appreciation in his arms.
Despite all of these serious undertones and themes, this is a gratifyingly light and funny movie.
I’d even wager that even though most people may not have experienced a same-sex marriage or don’t know their biological father, they will find this movie speaks to them on at least one level. These themes are universal and true.
And above all conventional…even in the most unconventional sense.
9.0 Hairs in the Shower Drain out of 10