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The Kids Are All Right More at IMDbPro »

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Good Acting, But Not Exactly Likable

Author: 3xHCCH from Quezon City, Philippines
15 January 2011

In all awards seasons, there is that one family film that comes up for awards consideration. This year, it is "The Kids are Alright." And yes, like "Kramer vs. Kramer", "Ordinary People" and "American Beauty" before it, it depicts a dysfunctional family, again. Of course, the flawed members of the family make for award-winning angsty moments, but it can be hard to watch.

The family consists of two lesbian mothers, the control freak doctor Nic (Annette Bening) and the luckless stay-in mom Jules (Julianne Moore). They each bore her own child, Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and Laser (Josh Hutcherson), with sperm from the same donor. In a curious move, that was unfortunately not discussed in detail, the kids sought out their biological father, Paul (Mark Ruffalo). From there, obviously, cracks begin to appear in their perfectly unconventional family as Paul integrates himself into their lives.

The actors were all very good. Annette Bening and Julianne Moore are both being cited as Best Actress nominees. They did have their own shining moments. Even if Annette is being given more awards attention, for me I liked the performance of Julianne more. Mark Ruffalo was very natural as the likable "new" dad figure. The way his charismatic character was developed though is disappointing. The actors playing the kids were also good, though they were sulking most of the time.

I do not know why this movie was nominated in the Golden Globe as a comedy. It is most certainly is NOT one, so it created some false expectations. I must also say though that watching the frank sex scenes (lesbian and otherwise) will not comfortable for everybody. I did not really expect to like it, and yes, it is not exactly likable in a sense, because of the distorted sense of morality being shown.

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6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

A Nutshell Review: The Kids Are All Right

Author: DICK STEEL from Singapore
27 February 2011

On screen lesbians Nic and Jules' family is constructed as such - they each take sperm that's donated from the same anonymous donor, and impregnate themselves, therefore having their children who can grow up to be half-siblings. Naturally one of them wears the pants in the house - Nic by virtue of being a doctor and raking in big money, while the other the stay home mom though looking to start her own business since the kids are all grown up. All's fine and dandy, though there are numerous problems percolating beneath the surface ready to explode, especially when the kids seek out and make contact with their biological dad Paul (Mark Ruffalo), an easy going guy who naturally appeals since he's out to bond with them, and never applying any parental responsibilities and control over the kid's upbringing. So here comes plenty of comparison, made worse when Paul enters into a physical relationship with Jules, thereby tossing the entire family relationship dynamics right up in the air.

This sudden appearance of a father figure forms the crux of the issues brought up in the film, such as whether a same-sex marriage with children will work, and the moral / ethical issues that come with teenagers growing up, who will one day question their being in this world. Everyones pretty self-conscious about various perceptions being cast upon them, and the usual family issues such as the lack of appreciation, the taking for grantedness, being petty and judgemental about another, all rear their ugly head. But it's not all a bitch fest and no fun. Enough comical moments got fused into the screenplay allowing some laughter to balance up the heavy dramatic moments, though I'm quite sure some may not find certain aspects as funny as I did if they're in the same boat or predicament faced by the characters, such as when the moms here started to suspect if their son had gay tendencies, or narratively co-writer and director Lisa Cholodenko just knew when to inject light-heartedness at the right points through her effective direction of the veteran cast.

The cast becomes the natural highlight, with Annette Bening and Julianne Moore being perfect opposite each other as the same sex married couple who have to deal with what I thought was the contempt from familiarity, and a strain in their marriage having a new man in their lives when none of them was prepared for it, since their kids were the one who did the outreach. It's been quite some time since we last saw Bening on screen, but what a comeback in a multi-faceted role. Moore also earns brownie points for her portrayal of Jules as the more emotional of the two, having to cope with the troubles that come from being too sensitive, being the personification of the saying of how we hurt the most those whom we love the most. Mark Ruffalo is also fast becoming one of my favourite character actors, and I'll be watching how he's going to tackle the Bruce Banner/Hulk role in The Avengers, which should be interesting to see his version of it, having Eric Bana and Edward Norton as his predecessors. Josh Hutcherson probably had the least screen time of the lot, but Mia Wasikowska had enough to show why she's probably the next up and coming actress in Hollywood's fold to keep an eye out for.

The Kids Are All Right boasts fine performances all round living its powerful dramatic screenplay, and seriously limiting it to one screen will dent its box office chances here, and making it a tad inconvenient to those genuinely wanting to see the film for all the right reasons, where moral/social fabric erosion is on the least of their concerns. At least it got shown, so I guess I should thank our lucky stars. Highl recommended!

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6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

The Connections and their Flows

Author: tedg ( from Virginia Beach
11 November 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is extremely good movie-making, movie-making of the sort that is centered on relationships. The relationships shape the characters rather than the other way around, and from this situations spin. All feeds back to the relations and all depends on the actors, one actress in particular. She knows and delivers. Moore is one of our very best actors.

The situation is that a lesbian couple use a sperm donor. One of them takes the experiences and is able to build a real enough human framework to begin making a film. She is lucky enough to have engaged Moore before she starts, and she brings Ruffalo. They worked well — and well with children — on "Blindness." Together they attract Bening to perform what already is her standard role. These are three very fine actors who know the secret language of creating and projecting relationships first before doing the usual thing of finding their characters.

The young filmmaker lets them go and they develop a very, very fine film, excepting the ending. Let's talk about that first.

The arc of the thing is in the developing of a crisis. In the world of the film as well as in the world of the actors, identity comes purely from relationships and we watch as the relationships are eroded and identities threatened. This is, in other words, not at all like the standard ("I Am Love" is an apt example), where human souls are muted and damaged, and where dynamics play out in the relationships. I do not believe it was intended, but the lesbian/IVF slant works the way science fiction often does, to show truth by shifting it from the normal a little.

The way that we see things come apart shows us the Legos of identity, and it is pretty darn uncomfortable watching because it rings so true. But because — I suppose — of financiers we have a "happy" ending that seems to have been built for a different film, even a different world. This ending starts when Julianne's character turns off the TeeVee and apologizes to her family in precisely the same way that Nic Cage does in "Family Man," and similar paper characters do in thousands of other films. We then have a domestic scene showing the happily ever after tone that simply jars.

So get up and leave the theater when Julianne grabs the TeeVee remote. You will leave in a state of suspension woven by three fine actors doing something relevant, powerful and by a different presentation than usual. If you choose to stay, at least pay attention to how the skateboard is used by the kid used to doing the heavy lifting in a family of women.

Julianne likes these sorts of acting challenges and has since "Vanya on 42nd St." This approach to acting is not about creating a soul, it is about connecting with an audience and you do that by connecting with on-screen beings in a similar way.

The setup is easy: traditional family exists. Yeah, I know they are gay and the kids were artificially started. But the template is standard, with all the tensions you find in a normal family. As the film progresses, we see the joints opened by tensions. The catalyst is an outsider who opens those joints so he can splice his own identity in. There is a biological analogy.

Within this setup, Julianne is the character we follow and it is through her that we are connected to her connections. Her to her partner and kids, is in the foreground and they among each other in a background. Watch the millions of nuances, they placing of self in a way that includes us. This is far more engaging and effective than, say, Streep's consistent approach.

And there is some film filmmaking as well. One shot stands out. We have met Ruffalo's character and know his world. We see him in the foreground in that world in a framing taken from Antonioni: perfect balance in the elements around and behind him. He is at peace in this world he has built. Into an unfilled space in the frame enter the two teenagers entering his world for the first time. The cinematic vocabulary here took my breath away.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.

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6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

The kids turned out fine

Author: jotix100 from New York
30 September 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Having been reared by two lesbian women, the children of Nic and Jules are, for the most part, quite normal. Joni, the oldest daughter is getting ready to go away to college, while her brother, Laser, is still in high school. As with children in the same situation, the siblings, that were conceived by each woman, had something in common: both used the same donor. Now grown up, the kids decide to track down the man that generously contributed to make them possible, to see what he is like.

Joni and Laser have grown up with family values; they are typical teenagers that are curious about the person that made it possible for them to be what they are, despite of the fact their mothers have tried to protect them, but have not prevented them from looking for the man. Paul, the donor, is a perfectly heterosexual man that does not suspect what his decision to donate his sperm was instrumental in the girl and the boy that want to meet him.

Lisa Cholodenko, who co-wrote the screenplay for this film, is a lady with a clear vision about the subject she wanted to present to film goers, although we have a feeling this independent type movie is not for everyone, regardless of the talent she was able to gather. More and more, American audiences have come to experience situations similar to what Ms. Cholodenko is showing here in different forms, be it in theater, films, or television. The fact that two women, both lesbians, have had the courage to give their children the best they could, is something that is remarkable in today's world, where family values are not exactly important in many so-called traditional marriages, where there are a man and a woman to do the upbringing job.

The film brings an interloper, as Nic calls Paul, into a happy environment that without trying hard, lures away Jules into an ill fated affair Jules never would have wanted. Nic is hurt, when she learns about it, as any other person would, as she realizes the way Jules was seduced by Paul. Their bond is somewhat shaken, the same way it happens in the heterosexual world, when a wife learns her husband has cheated on her, or vice-versa. Fortunately for Nic and Jules there are more important matters to take care: their children.

The casting of Annette Benning and Julianne Moore proves to be what the film needed. These are two of the best actresses working in film today. Both give amazing performances bringing to life two women that are real, as they could be the next door neighbors, for all we know, in today's environment. The other incredible performance is by Mark Ruffalo, who keeps getting better and better all the time. Together with the kids, Mia Wasikowska, and Josh Hutcherson, this is ensemble acting at its best. No small feat to accomplish, but Ms. Cholodenko does it with ease and panache.

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7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:


Author: leewalterstx from Galt's Gulch
25 February 2011

I thought this was "The Vulture is Molting". My bad.

I think this is definitely a case of a race to the bottom. Gee, if we can shovel enough crap down people's throats and have them believe its art, then we can practically sell them anything. This movie fits in that category. If you want to see 2 lesbian self oppressors argue about nonsense, their kids try to establish a real relationship with their sperm donor dad, and throw it all in the trash in the end with the dad going ...?, and absolutely NO resolution, then you might like this movie.

This seems like an amateur first attempt at a screenplay AT BEST, NOT an Oscar worthy attempt. If you believe in 'story', and you don't like endings that dangle in the wind like the stench of urine stained sheets on a clothesline, then you probably aren't up for this one either.

If this movie wins anything, then I'm betting Barack Obama wins the next election promising the moon while deficit spending until his orgasmic heart's content, our bonds tank, the dollar sinks to zero, and all these 'artists' will be left trying to burn old copies of Jack Kerouac to keep warm, and I will be expatriating...

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7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

A great movie - especially for Hollywood

Author: equatortravel from Msambweni, Kenya
22 February 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I really loved this film. It accurately portrays the intricacies of a long time gay relationship. Annette Bening is amazing - as always. I can just sit back an watch her act - she's by far the best American actress. I wonder about two of the characters: Jai and Clay. They both seem to be gay. Jai, a very pretty, sensitive boy, refuses to sleep with Joni and Clay, a classic homophobe with obvious gay issues, taunting Laser. Tho Laser may not be gay...Clay sure seems to be wrestling with the issue. Their characters, however, seem cut off in mid-stream. Was this a 'Hollywood' decision? Both characters represent qualities/issues that resonate with the gay community, and I wonder why more was not made of them. None of this spoils the movie for me. I hope they win the Oscar, but i fear that America is not adult enough to face the realities dealt with in this mature movie.

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7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Extraordinarily witty film

Author: erobertdc from Washington, DC
18 February 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie is just wonderfully witty. It is about two kids who belong to an untypical family - two lesbians for parents - who reach a certain age where they become curious about who the sperm donor was - who really was their father? Furtively they found out who their father is, but this is an issue that the whole family must confront.

Because this is such a big issue, and because Mark Rufalo's character seems to vary so much, it seems to have no anchor, I prefer to think of his character as the embodiment of the fantasies that each of the family members have about the sperm donor. He does not really exist - he is simply a living metaphor so that the family can discuss the issue.

To the boy he seems really cool and plays basketball. To the girl, he also seems really cool and a dream boat. To Julianne Moore's character he might be the perfect male lover that she never had. Towards the end of the movie, he even attracts Nic.

But in the end, the family comes together and triumphs over their fantasies about the sperm donor.

So I believe the discussion of parentage was executed with a great deal of wit and we have this movie to thank for the new appellation that we can call my wife every time she becomes overly controlling and domineering, "Nic."

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7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

I really wanted to like this film

Author: pik923 from Las Vegas, Nevada
1 January 2011

And with such a good cast - I love Annette B and Julianne M (her work in the GREAT The Hours is exemplary). However the director/writer has never impressed me. How she actually made this work for herself to bring in top names to another one of her films is beyond me.

The first bedroom scene was just unwarranted and from there on it went downhill. Unfortunately with very few good films made on the subject of lesbianism, most especially directed by women, it is strange enough just to write that, however with that truth, the public desiring these films are willing to accept even bad movies with that theme. This is another one of those films.

I am sorry to share these comments, however time for the truth. And I'm sorry I voted 1 because some of the cast deserve better than that, but overall, most especially with the director at the helm who does not deserve to have directed this film and should also learn how to write, I only suggest to watch this film as an example of not what to do when it comes to writing films and directing films about women loving women, especially now that we are believe it or not post don't ask don't tell.

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8 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Bad case of Gay Propaganda

Author: sebisuzuki from Romania
2 March 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Worst movie I've seen in years. And the problem is that you don't realize it until the film it's over. And than I had "nightmares" about the stupidity of it. It's just gay/lesbian propaganda movie at it's worst. The actors are good, and also the directing is good, the problem comes from the scrip itself. At the beginning it's not so bad, just different, because you don't see many movies about lesbian families. They are happy, the are gay and everything is OK until the boogie man comes. I mean the heterosexual Paul, who wants a piece of their family. But although Jules is a weak lesbian and she is spelled by the primitive desires of Paul (in fact she is more pushy than him) still the kids realize that a daemon lies inside of him, and that daemon tries to tear apart the family. So although he comes to apologize they could not forgive such a mortal sin, and he is excommunicated from the family with a perfect line from the matriarch of the family Nic : GO and make your own family !!! Isn't that just great ?!?!?!? And there are more stupid lines that come to my head, but I'm to embarrassed to share them with you.

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8 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

I was expecting good things from this movie but was sorely mistaken.

Author: opheriadelphinium from United States
28 November 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I was expecting this movie to be a great indication of how a lesbian couple can be much like a straight couple. Because of the taboo of homosexual marriage, I was hoping for it to depict a very normal, albeit, somewhat dysfunctional family. This would be much like most straight families.

What made me extremely unhappy with this movie is that it might as well have been an homage to the fantasy of a straight male misogynist. Not only does the couple watch male porn, one of the moms cheats on her spouse with the male sperm donor. Moreover, they showed very clearly how much she enjoyed having sex with him. What "normal" straight couple is depicted as cheating on their spouse with someone of the same sex? It increased the stereotype that lesbians can be changed if they were only to find the right man. This would make more sense if she considered herself to be bisexual, but she very clearly says that she is a lesbian.

I don't understand how there are so many reviews that suggest this was like depicting a normal straight couple marriage of 20 years. Are you kidding me? They did not need to have her cheat with a MAN. There was enough of a plot point with the meeting of the sperm donor that the addition of the wife cheating with him simply made it a male fantasy.

I was so expecting wonderful things from this movie as there are so few mainstream movies that depict a normal, healthy relationship between a gay couple with a family. Instead of accomplishing what it was perhaps intending to, showing the world that gay families can be just as normal and healthy as straight families, it did the exact opposite.

Whoever wrote this movie should be ashamed of themselves.

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