31 December 2010

The Kids Are All Right

The Kids Are All Right

Starring Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasakowska, Josh Hutcherson. Written by Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg. Directed by Lisa Cholodenko. Release: 9 July 2010. Gilbert Films, 104 mins., Rated R

Plot: Family is difficult, marriage is complicated.

THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT is, as expected and expressed (by millions and millions of similar reviews), a good movie. Now, with that said, does it really express warm "family values"? Is it a comment on how even a lesbian couple with years of marriage between them will still have disputes similar to heterosexual couples? Is the movie even saying a damn thing at all? Personally, and I might be missing the entire point of the movie entirely, assuming there is one, but the whole lesbian marriage thing isn't really important to the movie, I think. I mean, the relationship is, but the fact that they're lesbians isn't. The entire movie is about relationships, using its 104 minute runtime to detail a very specific point of time that's apparently critical to this family unit. Infidelity, sexuality, adulthood, etc. All subplots that make up THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT, but although they're cleverly handled and very well written, I'm not going to be recommending this movie to anyone because of the subject matter or its showcase of a lesbian couple (which still is nowhere in the same league in the honest relationship between Willow and Tara in BUFFY, THE VAMPIRE SLAYER).

The real beauty of this movie, the thing that stunned me and kept me interested in all these different plots and characters, are the powerhouse performances. Julianne Moore, who I've never really been a fan of, is fallible and relatable. Annette Benning spends the first two thirds of the movie being the object of major bitchiness, but in the final act delivers some really serious emotion that's quite heart stopping. The children, Mia Wasakowska and Josh Hutcherson, are just as brilliant if not moreso. Wasakowska, who I hadn't seen prior to the forgettable ALICE IN WONDERLAND earlier this year, is truly remarkable. Hutchersen gives a nuanced and restrained performance that forgives his train wreck work in CIRQUE DU FREAK. And best and most memorable of all is Mark Ruffalo. I still can't see him as The Hulk, but this man practically makes this movie. If you were at all interested in this title, minus the Oscar-buzz, I'd throw it in your hands for the sole reason of experiencing the Ruffalo.

So overall, THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT is quite the good production, and entirely recommendable. A good story, some amazing performances, and a runtime that flies by. Aside from the actors, it may not be a movie that will elicit much discussion after the credits roll, although the family did talk about how unwarranted Nic going batshit on Paul in the first two thirds of the film was. Trying to finish all the award-worthy titles before the Oscars? Give it a whirl. As a stand alone movie, it's interesting and well worth your time, but again: the performances sell it.

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