The Kids Are All Right

(This review was first posted in July 2010)

This might be the first film that really epitomizes Obama’s America. Free-wheeling West coast liberal lesbians and college aspiring multi-talented kids- what’s not to love? Even the sperm donor who’s supposed to be a bit of a bum in comparison with the super uptight doctor Mom (Annette Benning) owns an organic farm and successful restaurant. It’s another case of beautiful people living out beautiful lives, and I’m never averse to that.

Benning along with Julianne Moore (who, it seems, absolutely cannot resist getting naked in any film) play the lesbian parents of two kids (Alice in Wonderland’s Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson) who find out who their biological father is (He’s Mark Ruffalo). What proceeds is family bonding that results in a slightly more heterosexual inclination for one of the mothers and a good all round assessment of what family values really mean.

The film is very self-congratulatory. The kids have some problems but are smart and at least fairly well rounded. Nice house, nice food, nice wine and a lot of funny one liners, it doesn’t need to try as hard to be a brochure for West coast life as it does. But it would be unfair to say that it is entirely consumed by ‘smug’. The film is also a sweet and tender portrait of happiness and love from 15 to 52. Reminiscent of ‘It’s Complicated’ in its attempts to do nothing more than sell a certain lifestyle, it’s superficial but also an attractive proposition.

A nice idea is brought together by a cast on fine form who each bring their own talents to the varying roles. It’s not the golden star for gay adoption that some cynics thought it might be and works as a more interesting, and more rounded, exploration of family life that should appeal to almost anyone. Except Republicans.

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