Last night I attended a preview screening for the new Lisa Cholodenko film the Kids Are All Right. It took place at the Chelsea Clearview on West 23rd Street near 8th Avenue in money-makin’ Manhattan. Many thanks to Lisa M. Jones for providing me the opportunity to see this Sundance Film Festival favorite on the eve of it’s official release.
The film stars Julianne Moore and Annette Bening as Jules and Nic, a lesbian couple whose children were conceived by artificial insemination. When their daughter Joni (Mia Wasikowska) turns eighteen, her brother Laser (Josh Hutcherson) asks her to contact their sperm donor father Paul, played by Mark Ruffalo.
Annette Bening’s character Nic evokes the hard drinking, uptight professional character she played in American Beauty. At first she is amused by Paul, then becomes suspicious with good reason at the relationship between him and her wife Jules. Julianne Moore as the aging flake doesn’t seem completely believable during the film’s first few scenes but increasingly owns the role; coming across far less awkwardly as the movie progresses.
Wasikowska and Hutcherson make good in the film. As an 18 year old sister and her 16 year old brother respectively, they bring an interesting dynamic to the story. Mark Ruffalo is convincing as a bachelor approaching middle age who is lusted after by California-style trendies at his organic bistro. Picture David Duchovny as a restaurateur.
All in all this movie has its moments, although it comes across as far too predictable the way it seems to follow the typical “mainstream indie” formula. Julianne Moore as a lesbian? Check. Default soundtrack including an opening song by Vampire Weekend? Check. Quirky yet comfortable upper middle class lifestyle led by each and every major adult character? Check.
Multiple reviews I’ve read for this movie bemoan the fact that it doesn’t seem to evolve beyond a sitcom level; moving from some good laughs to something that really stays with you. I would have to agree with this. However, this is a solid date movie that is laugh out loud funny. If that’s what your looking for, it works. The film has something to say about relationships and human nature, to a point. Just don’t try take away too much from this Summer comedy or else you’ll leave disappointed.
I gave The Kids Are All Right a score of 3 out of 5 inanimate objects.