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Oscars: The Kids Are All Right

January 26, 2011 By: nooccar Category: Movies, Reviews

The best picture nomination, The Kids Are All Right, fell under the radar of many, while, for me, it caught my eye because it’s a classic story of love, relationships people have, the rites of passage.

Nic & Jules are just a normal couple working and living in a relatively nondescript California hillside city with their two children. Nic is a successful doctor who met Jules when she came into the emergency room one evening. They have what seems to be a normal relationship with their children, Joni and Laser, played by Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson respectively. Until Joni turns 18 years old and the younger Laser begins to pester her. See, Joni and Laser were born through artificial insemination from the same sperm donor; each Nic, played by Annette Benning, and Jules, played by Julianna Moore, birthed one of the two children. Laser, who is going through the throes of male adolescence in a house full of women, seeks out something more. He think that something could be filled in the form of his sperm donor, played well by Mark Ruffalo.

The Kids Are All Right by Suzanne Tenner

Joni, who is now 18, is convince to help Laser hunt down their “father”, Paul, who runs a co-op nearby, and is portrayed as Ruffalo usually is – a fun loving, dorking yet handsomely attractive man desirable by the women who surrounds themselves with him. This should not include Jules, but the true conflict occurs when suddenly Jules hops into bed Paul’s bed. This key narrative plot is the bane of my existence, since Nic and Jules seem happy. The subtle undercurrent of wanting more ripples through both Jules, who is shadowed in her trying to start a landscape design company by her more successful doctor partner and Laser who is becoming his own man without a male role model. While this idea of infidelity bothers me in what seemed to be a relatively loving relationship, and Ruffalo’s appeal isn’t convincing, I do think this ensemble cast of these three talented actors pulls off a well-acted film.

Maybe that subtle uncertainty is what makes this film the quintessential coming of age relationship film. Benning and Moore’s relationship is more than convincing (notwithstanding their awkward proclivities) while Joni’s carefree, smoothly coming into her own is a nonissue as she prepares to break out own her own. Although the 21st century’s ideals of “marriage” and relationships in nontraditional families is played smoothly and without awkward societal reasoning, it still bothers me, a heterosexual male, that Nic so easily cheats on her wife and her family, while my lesbian friends who saw this film agree that Nic’s actions are their own hidden fears that they’re not good enough for their own partners simply because they are not male.

Ruffalo usually plays Ruffalo and this film is nothing new, albeit Benning and Moore shift convincingly into their rules; Annette Benning deserves her nomination although she is up against a world of competitive talent in the likes of Natalie Portman, in the critical favorite Black Swan and new comer Jennifer Lawrence the protagonist from Winter’s Bone. While I fear the Best Picture nod will not go to this little film, Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg have a better chance of walking off with the Original Screenplay award given it’s already successes earlier in the award’s season.


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