After my wife and I had our almost weekly summer date and saw the movie The Kids Are All Right, she noted that it was, in many ways, a very conventional, slice-of-life, film about the travails of family life. And I realized, that, at the core, she was absolutely right.
It’s a story about a long-time committed couple. They deal with the universal rigors of relationship, which was described as a marathon, not a sprint. It also involves their teenage kids, a girl just turning 18, and a boy, 15, dealing with sexuality, bullying, alcohol, and identity, just like many people.
OK, so not every movie involves a lesbian couple who were each artificially inseminated by an anonymous donor, who becomes less than anonymous when the boy gets the girl to find out who their common father is. And gay men’s porn is not always a family talking point.
What makes this an intriguing story was the script and direction of Lisa Cholodenko, creator of High Art and Laurel Canyon. Like those two films, as film critic Mick LaSalle noted, features “somebody from a world a little less structured who seduces someone from a world a little more regimented.”
The film is also blessed by the casting of Annette Bening, as a Type A doctor, and Julianne Moore, as her more bohemian partner. Their “unexotic, unglamorous and totally routine” lives are upended by the bio-dad (Mark Ruffalo); how (and why) he changes the family dynamic is an important part of the tale. A few critics carped that, in the end, conventionality, of a sort, is restored, but I think that’s the point.
If you’re looking for non-stop, wall-to-wall action, do not see this film. But if you want to see an interesting look at basic truths of family dynamics, check this out. As Metroland critic Laura Leon put it: “It’s kind of ironic that, finally, a movie about how long-term relationships change and transform over time—in short, what happens to just about everybody—has come out and it’s very wonderful…these are the kind of real-life stories that everybody deals with, and why aren’t we seeing more of them, instead of Clash of the Cyborg Mutants in 3D, in cinemas?”
The movie trailer.
The only downside to the movie: no music by the Who.