Friday, October 25, 2013

Movie Review - The Kids are All Right (2010)

Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and her younger brother Laser are approaching their late teen years.  Joni, a senior, has just turned eighteen and Laser asks her for a favor.  He wants her to request a meeting with their biological father because she is of legal age to ask.  These siblings were conceived via artificial insemination to two mothers, Jules (Julianne Moore) and Nic (Annette Bening).  Even though Joni isn't interested in meeting him, she contacts the sperm donor for her brother.

Joni and Laser finally arrange a meeting with Paul, their biological father (Mark Ruffalo).  A mutual affinity develops between them, and Paul's introduction into the family's life starts to complicate paternal roles.  Nic, the breadwinner of the family starts to feel threatened and undermined by Paul's presence.  She starts to feel at a loss of control in influence and stature as Paul grows closer to the kids.  According to her, Paul has no right to causally integrate himself into their family without all the effort and years she and Jules have put in.

Co-written and directed by Lisa Cholodenko, The Kids Are All Right is presented naturally with dynamic characters.  Much like real life, the issues and problems presented aren't easily fixed, and there are always flaws to improve and people to forgive.  This film presents the question of what truly defines a family: the ones with closest blood relations or the ones who raised you?  

Like the teenagers and adults surrounding them, this movie also encompasses the underlying theme of what it means to mature: Joni is about to transition out of the nest and into college, Laser is learning about what a true friend is, Nic is attempting to provide for the household without neglecting it, Jules feels disregarded at times by Nic, and Paul is just starting to experience the need for others to care for after living a single life.  No matter what experiences they may have behind them, no one has it figured out, and everyone has something new to learn about life and relationships.

The Kids Are All Right is available for stream on Netflix

Rated R strong sexual content, nudity, language and some teen drug and alcohol use


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