The Kids Are All Right, Very All Right

The Kids Are All Right is a well-balanced “dramedy” (comedy/drama) about an unconventional family, dealing with the arrival of another member of the family who is related in an unconventional kind of way.  The lightness of the tone, mixed with the overall themes involving family and the bonds of marriage, as well as some strong and sharp comedic moments give the dramatic elements of this film an effective weight.  In addition, strong performances from the lead characters also aid the film quite remarkably.

Laser: Why did you donate sperm
Paul: It just seemed a lot more fun than donating blood.

The film stars Annette Bening and Julianne Moore as Nic and Jules, a happily married couple.  Nic is a busy and hard-working physician who likes her wine, while Jules is a little more of a free spirit.  They have two kids of their own.  These children are Joni and Laser, played by Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson, 18 and 15 years old.  Each mother, using the sperm donation of the same man, conceived the two kids.

This man is Paul, played by Mark Ruffalo, who the children have an interest in meeting.  They manage to get in contact with him, and he soon enters into the lives of this family.  Paul is a kind of laid back, alternative, scruffy, cool guy – and he rides a motorcycle.  This of course doesn’t impress the moms much at first, although Joni kind of likes this newish “dad” guy.  As Paul becomes more involved and a distance starts to form between Nic and Jules, a new entanglement that may complicate things, emerges.

Julie: Go easy on the wine.
Nic: OK, well go easy on the macro-managing.

This film does a great job at balancing these relationships.  It hardly tries to exploit the fact that the main relationship is a gay one, but it instead respects the characters.  Bening and Moore have a strong chemistry both in the way they love each other and fight with each other, which suggests a real relationship.  The way the kids each exhibit traits relating to their respective moms is also quite well handled, and made more interesting as we see more of Paul.  The way Paul factors in is of course important as well, and Ruffalo has a knack for pushing the right kind of scruffy, but successful cool drifter-type character that is needed.

As far as these performances go, both Rufalo and Moore are solid, as they always are.  These two have worked together before and have a natural comfort in their scenes.  Ruffalo does a good job of essentially representing a sort of ideal mate for Moore’s character, while lending his own qualities.  Moore exceeds at balancing a lot of comedic elements with the drama parts surrounding the marriage.  But really, it is Bening that I found to be the strongest.  Her character is well written as controlling and frankly – mean, but the way she delivers her lines and plays out the beats required of her is very effective throughout.  This could have been played much more shrewd-like, but instead, Bening is sharp, funny, and damned ice cold all at the same time.  Gotta love that!

As far as the kids go, they are all ri…good.  After being somewhat of a bore for me in Alice in Wonderland, Wasikowska delivers a fine performance as a young adult, ready to head out to college, with a desire to learn more as she heads into later adulthood.  Hutcherson, who I must admit is quite good for a young actor, does well enough here, even if his character is given the least amount of material to work with.

The film is paced nicely, with the aforementioned light tone.  The score by Coen Brother regular Carter Burwell does a swell job at mixing in with the alternative beats scattered throughout.  The writing is truly a big part of why this film succeeds.  It’s witty, funny and true to each character.  By the time the film finds its resolution, everything feels earned and done so without betraying the feel of the film.

The Kids Are All Right is an overall solid and entertaining family “dramedy.”  There’s that word again!

Paul: To an unconventional family.




Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

3 Responses to “The Kids Are All Right, Very All Right”

  1. Brian White

    Mark Ruffalo is a very versatile actor. I like him in almost anything. Although I don’t agree with the decision, it will be interesting to see what he brings to the table when he takes on the Hulk character.

  2. VT

    It was a good movie!

  3. Suzanne Coulston

    This does sound like a movie I will enjoy…now how to I talk my husband into going with me to see a chickish flick with a two ageing lesbians and a cool-guy sperm doner?? Guess I’ll be taking my mom.
    Excellent review.