Movie review: 'Kids Are All Right' takes funny, heartbreaking new approach to virtues of family life
Two moms; two kids; one sperm donor. Not a conventional family unit in the minds of many.
But no matter what your politics or moral views dictate, “The Kids Are All Right” conveys sentiments and truths about family ties and families coming unraveled that are universal. And it does so with great wit, wisdom and warmth — not to mention obvious originality — through the smart and deeply sensitive performances of its principal players under the knowing direction of Lisa Cholodenko (“High Art,” “Laurel Canyon”), who co-wrote the original screenplay with Stuart Blumberg (“Keeping the Faith”).
Annette Bening and Julianne Moore are enormously engaging and endearing as Nic and Jules, respectively, longtime partners in a lesbian marriage, living a cozy suburban life in Los Angeles with their two teenage children, Joni (Mia Wasikowska, fantastic in “Alice in Wonderland”), 18, and Laser (Josh Hutcherson), 15, who were conceived with the help of the same anonymous donor. Nic gave birth to Joni and Jules brought Laser into the world, and the kids refer to their parents as “Moms” in lieu of “Mom and Mom” or “Mom and Dad.” (“Don’t tell Moms,” “What will Moms think?” etc.)
Nic, a doctor, is the high-strung, confident alpha half of the couple who enforces the house rules, while Jules is the sweeter and more vulnerable of the two, the mostly stay-at-home parent who has tried different jobs, attended architectural school and now wants to try her hand at landscape designing.
It’s a reasonably comfortable and happy home, save for the midlife tensions caused by Joni’s impending departure for college, and Jules’ indecision about what to do with the next stage of her life. But then the kids decide on their own to satisfy a natural, nagging curiosity to seek out their biological father.
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