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61 of 73 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good slice of life film - and topical.
The Kids Are All Right is a thoroughly entertaining slice-of-life domestic drama about two kids who look up their sperm-donor father, causing cataclysmic changes in the family dynamic. Not a unique premise save that the parents of the kids happen to be lesbians.

The entire cause célèbre for this film is to show straight America how "normal" gay...
Published on August 7, 2010 by I. Sondel

versus
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but flawed indie comedy/drama (3 1/2 stars)
Yes, this movie is probably being at least a little overpraised by the critics. I suspect many of them consider it "brave" for a film to depict an ordinary American family, whose parents just happen to be lesbians. Let's face it, awards voters and critics love anything that deals with race, homosexuality, or any of the other hot-button social topics (witness the dreck...
Published on January 17, 2011 by googleit


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but flawed indie comedy/drama (3 1/2 stars), January 17, 2011
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This review is from: The Kids Are All Right (DVD)
Yes, this movie is probably being at least a little overpraised by the critics. I suspect many of them consider it "brave" for a film to depict an ordinary American family, whose parents just happen to be lesbians. Let's face it, awards voters and critics love anything that deals with race, homosexuality, or any of the other hot-button social topics (witness the dreck known as "Crash" winning Best Picture a few years ago).

None of which is meant to detract from The Kids are All Right, which is still quite an enjoyable small film. The acting especially is uniformly good. Annette Bening is sure to receive an Oscar nomination (well deserved), for her fantastic performance as Nic, the tightly-wound, more responsible half of the married couple formed by herself and Julianne Moore. Moore is also excellent playing Jules, a more aimless free-spirit type - their differences are a source of much of the comedy in the film. In all respects but their sexual orientation, they are a typical suburban married couple, with all the happiness and challenges that entails.

Mark Ruffalo continues to be one of the most reliably good actors working today. He gives another standout performance as Paul, the biological father of Nic's daughter Joni and Jules' son Laser. As is often the case in his other films, Ruffalo's acting has such ease and charm that he makes his performance look deceptively easy. In lesser hands the character of Paul could have been the stereotypical charming bad-boy we've seen before in movies a million times. But Ruffalo gives him a warmth and humanity that makes the audience root for him (even when he screws up).

My biggest complaint about the film was with a major plot twist involving Jules and Paul that seemed completely out of character to me. I realize the director was trying to comment on how Paul's more accepting nature gave Jules something she was not getting from her wife Nic - but the way it was done in the film strained credibility. I also thought the script was rather mean in its treatment of Paul in general... he was basically just discarded at the end of the film without even a chance at an apology. Meanwhile, Jules makes a rather pat speech about marriage, all is forgiven, and we get a pat and not-very-satisfying ending. The film seemed to border on being anti-male, at least that was my perception.

A word about the 2 young actors who play the kids... they both give fantastic, natural performances and are clearly talents to keep watching for as their careers progress.

Overall the great acting is what carries the rather slight story, and it is worth watching for Bening's performance alone (both she and Moore are completely believable as a lesbian couple, for what it's worth). While I do not think it is Best Picture material, it is an enjoyable and occasionally moving portrayal of an almost-typical American family.
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61 of 73 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good slice of life film - and topical., August 7, 2010
This review is from: The Kids Are All Right (DVD)
The Kids Are All Right is a thoroughly entertaining slice-of-life domestic drama about two kids who look up their sperm-donor father, causing cataclysmic changes in the family dynamic. Not a unique premise save that the parents of the kids happen to be lesbians.

The entire cause célèbre for this film is to show straight America how "normal" gay families are and that they shouldn't be afraid of "gay marriage" or "gay parenting," thus it doesn't delve too deep or wander too far off topic. Political film making is a tricky business. You'll remember the Tom Hanks drama Philadelphia was maligned by the LGBT activist fringe for all the issues it didn't address; to which my answer has always been: it's a two hour film, if you add too many spicy issues you're left with an unpalatable polemic.

The script and direction by Lisa Cholodenko (High Art) are tight, well focused and only occasionally heavy-handed. Her characters are fresh, while being stereotypically familiar to pre-conditioned movie-goers. These are folks we know, people we work with and/or live in our neighborhood: "normal" people. Is it perfect? No; there an almost fatally flawed plot contrivance that seems only there to provide the filmmaker an all too easy source of conflict.

What elevates the film above the run-of-mill movie-of-the-week domestic drama is the acting. Annette Benning is staggeringly good as the head of her household - the alpha female in this case. Her performance is embarrassingly rich; she presents a myriad of conflicting emotions, each one immediately recognizable, true and never over played. Julianne Moore turns in a lovely portrait of the less-successful, less self-assured partner. Mark Ruffalo is a revelation as a forty-something man finally approaching adulthood; a free-spirit, still capable of making disastrously foolish decisions in his pursuit to find personal fulfillment. Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson are always on target as the kids, conveying the perfect blend of angst and innocence.

Just as they did with Juno and Little Miss Sunshine, the film community is falling all over themselves hyping this. Like those films, The Kids Are All Right is an entertaining, socially relevant effort and deserving of quantified praise; but don't be mislead, it's not Citizen Kane.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I Liked Overall, But Had A Problem With A Few Things In The Story..., April 9, 2011
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This review is from: The Kids Are All Right (DVD)
I found this movie to be very well-acted and well-directed.
The sexual scenes didn't bother me not one bit, like some of the other reviewers.
I mean, COME ON!!---This is life in the 21st Century!--Grow up already!
People get naked and they interact, okay?---Thank goodness that computers and gadgets
haven't spoiled that for us (yet!), as it has with basic conversational skills and other forms
of by-gone or slowly dying human interaction.

I actually know both a lesbian couple, as well as a gay male couple who
are living similar circumstances as in the premise of this movie.
I found it very modern, refreshing, and mature in it's approach to the subject matter.
I have long been a fan of Mark Ruffalo, Julianne Moore and Annette Benning's work,
and I also thought "the kids" themselves did an excellent job at portraying their roles.
My problem was in that I felt like the Mark Ruffalo character kind of had his once happy
and balanced, (for him), life just upheaved and torn apart when he gets contacted by these "kids",
who of course, have every right to know who their father / donor was, and also what his background is.
Ruffalo's character had a great attitude (I thought) about the whole thing...
He was naturally pensive and cautious at first, though not in a malicious way, but soon warmed to the
idea that he had these "kids" in his life now, and was more than open to getting to know them, and allow
them to get to know him. I felt that Annette Benning's character, who felt threatened, in addition to just
being an anal-retentive, controlling witch with a capital B, was very mean and cold towards Ruffalo's character.
Julianne Moore's character was a bit of a messy, confused, psychological user.

Moore's character is that kind of person who is filled with inner turmoil or frustration, but makes it everybody
else's problem around her. I hated how she treated the latino gardener too, just because she felt guilty
about all of the drama and calamity that she was causing in her affair with Ruffalo's character!
I always say: "Don't jump in the river, if you're not a strong swimmer, babe!" (-:

Ruffalo's character was the perfect outlet for her pent up sexual confusion / tension,
and the two (again) enter into a very complicated and torrid affair, which of course, could
only end in heartache for all concerned. As soon as Moore's character quenches her sexual thirst/curiosity,
she just basically returns back to her life relationship Benning's character and the "kids",
after she and Ruffalo's character are found out, and they all seem to throw Ruffalo's character under the bus...
As if to say, "Okay babe, we've all uprooted you from your life, and now we're done with ya!--So ummmm---kay, bye!"

This kind of left a bad taste in my mouth, as Ruffalo's character is literally left
on the outside looking in, as Benning & Moore & the kids reunion-reconnection happens without him.
He is locked out of their lives...Lives that he really never knew exsisted in the first place,
until they invaded his, satiated their curiosity, and sent him packing.
Not cool, I felt. )-:
Not saying that Ruffalo's character was a saint or anything, but the man had his own business
and his own life...as unorthodox as it was...but then again, wasn't Benning, Moore and the kids' lives
just as unorthodox? I guess I just wished that a balance could've been reached between all parties,
and it could've ended on that note, instead of Ruffalo's character, who btw, he played with a great spirit
& optimism, being dejected and disregarded. Just my humble opinion of course. (-:
I still enjoyed this movie though, despite its (what I considered to be) plot flaws. **4 Stars**
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars And what exactly was the point of this movie?, February 26, 2011
By 
J. Walters (Salt Lake City, Utah United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Kids Are All Right (DVD)
It seems to me the moral of the story is, if you're a lesbian couple then don't invite your sperm donor into your lives otherwise he'll make one of you temporarily "switch teams" so he can have a brief affair and antagonize your relationship with the children? I didn't really have any expectations for the movie and I barely knew what it was about going in. It's too bad because the acting was pretty good all around and the plot was intriguing and kept my attention. The resolution of the characters and their conflicts however is where the movie just fails for me. I get the filmmakers don't want to be predictable but the end of the movie had me not liking this family very much at all. Maybe that was the point, I don't know. Why build up a flawed but likeable character in Mark Ruffalo throughout the movie only to have the family members basically relieve themselves in his face when he doesn't deserve it and then just go on with their lives like nothing happened? I suppose the Paul character goes from being content with his free spirit life to wanting to settle down with a family. The other characters hardly go anywhere. By the end of the movie Nic is still the same self-centered insecure mother she was before. Jules is still indecisive and overly dependent on people for attention. Laser does dump his jerk of a friend but doesn't do much else the rest of the movie. Joni kisses her friend who apparently shares the same feelings but then that's it. She just goes off to college. The movie wasn't terrible but certainly not deserving of the Oscar attention it has gotten.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great performances; story a big disappointment, December 24, 2010
By 
wren (surrounded by blue) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Kids Are All Right (DVD)
(might be a spoiler if you know nothing about the movie - then don't read!)

First I have to say all of the actors turned in top notch performances inspired by a worthy director. These all are characters one comes to care about, in spite of their flaws.

Now the disappointment - what happens between Paul & Jules simply was not believable - lesbian women certainly are capable of cheating but not likely with a straight man. And Jules is too old to not be sure about her identity - she says several times she's gay, not bi.

Even if I allowed for the possibility Jules might be drawn to Paul, the reaction of all the characters toward Paul was nothing but mean-spirited. I wasn't looking for a fairy tale, but if Jules deserved forgiveness - which she did, as her partner was a bit much to take at times, then Paul also deserved forgiveness, especially from his children.

The problem? This movie wasn't sure if it wanted to be a comedy or a melodrama. I am glad I saw it, though I wished I'd turned it off about 20 minutes before the ending.

The best scenes were with all of them together, just being an unconventional family who actually liked each other. Why couldn't the author have seen that was a much more interesting and important message than yet another movie dealing with couples' cheating?

One more great scene that made the movie worth seeing: Annette Bening singing a Joni Mitchell song!

The performances made it a two star rather than one star movie. Boo to the author for not having faith unconventional families can exist -- and work quite well, thank you very much! There was no need to end the movie with a mean-spirited note.

See it for the performances, not the plot.
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27 of 34 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Acting yes, story no., January 16, 2011
This review is from: The Kids Are All Right (DVD)
In terms of acting, it's a great film. Each character is fleshed out to the point where they seem like real people. The problem with slice of life pictures like this, is they often don't offer a reason to watch. It's so much like life that is boring. Nothing ever happens. I don't mean that there needs to be explosions, or car chases or death. But beyond a few arguments, there is nothing here to make someone feel like the story should have ever been told, if there were a story at all.
Conflict sure.
Climax... sorta....
Resolution... not really.

Just, a few bickers, a flighty affair, and then, nothing.
Nothing is changed, solved or resolved.

Again, actors are great, the story is not.
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44 of 57 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars So, let me get this straight...., January 29, 2011
By 
montysano (Huntsville, AL United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Kids Are All Right (DVD)
~
**** spoiler alert ****

So let me get this straight...

We have a neurotic, dysfunctional yuppie family where the parents happen to be a lesbian couple. Their daughter seeks out the sperm donor who is her biological father. Paul, played by an excellent Mark Ruffalo, is a flawed, never-been-married forty-something guy, but he is a warm, genuine, caring person. They draw him into their life and involve him in their family. He develops relationships with both of the children.

Julianne Moore comes on to him, they have an affair, they get found out, the family is shattered. Moore and her partner, played by Annette Bening, manage to reconcile, but everyone hates Paul, who is left a broken man. Then, Moore and Bening and their son get in their $60K SUV, hold hands, and head back to their entitled, self-absorbed life, leaving behind a daughter who seems blithely able to just... move on.

The performances by Mark Ruffalo and Mia Wasikowska (as daughter Joni) were excellent. It was 60% of a decent movie with stupefyingly ham-handed conclusion, an ending that sent a chill up my spine for its sheer callousness.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good But Much Left Unresolved, March 16, 2011
This review is from: The Kids Are All Right (DVD)
I enjoyed this film but in the end I thought the meaning of human sexuality, intimacy and pair bonding within the context of a contemporary marriage, brought into sharp relief by the arrival of Paul (Mark Ruffalo), was left unresolved and unacknowledged. Perhaps that was the director's intent. The fact that Nick and Jules are gay is almost beside the point. The very existence of Paul, an affable stranger with a biological connection to the couple's offspring and no male to male competitive issues, wouldn't make sense in a story involving a heterosexual couple.
The real drama here is Nick and Jules' relationship which includes many of the traits and strains of many long term relationships, straight and gay. They are both attractive, but the sex has been getting workmanlike and probably a bit boring. They are getting on each other's nerves. Kids are growing up and in their own way pushing back and asserting themselves as newly minted adults. Now that her full time childcare duties are winding down, Jules is eager to move on to a new phase of her life with a new business that will allow her to flex her long dormant design skills. Nick (the alpha half and a bit of a control freak) isn't taking to these changes very graciously. Enter, Paul, who is invited into contact with the family by the "kids". He's a nice guy...attractive (did Ruffalo purposely model Warren Beatty on his Paul) non-needy, owner of his own business who makes a genuine and healthy connection to Joni and Laser. In his private life, he's probably polyamorous...but we really don't know for sure. Jules however is feeling somewhat unappreciated and condescended to by Nick and Paul, now a client of hers, is the perfect tableau on which to project her longing for a lover who listens to her, appreciates her talents and isn't so controlling and self absorbed. Her evolution from consultant to lover is slow, sweet and entirely understandable. The sexual release is explosive. Jules still loves Nick but their 20 or so years of pair bonding intimacy has downgraded their sexual passion and therefore, in turn, their relationship. Sound familiar? After being "discovered" by Nick and the recriminations begin to fly Jules shouts "Do you even find me attractive anymore?"
By this point I though the film was really covering some really important ground but then.... it doesn't quite know where to go. After beautifully exposing the real challenges and contradictions of monogamy in long term relationships and the need for couples to take a hard look at how their love life may be undergoing atrophy, the ensuing "crisis" is wasted with a brief heartfelt but lame "marriage is hard" speech from Jules and rather selfish tossing away of Paul,halfheartedly re-branded as some sort of villain by the de-facto family "bad cop" Nick. Are we to asssume that everyone else agrees or is Nick just being the same "old" Nick and making everyone elses decisions for them....or do they ALL want Paul (who they invited to this gig in the first place) to disappear?
As for Paul, contact with this family has ignited a desire for a real pair bonding relationship with loving partner and much to his surprise, he falls for Jules...who really, I think, just needed a passionate fling (with the ever controlling Nick out of the picture) to help her re-find her inner self and begin building a better relationship with Nick. This is life! We don't always like the consequences. Paul goes away (I guess) somewhat heartbroken (again....I guess), and we are (or at least I was) left hoping he'd get over it and, some day have "the kids" back to his restaurant for some braised lamb shanks and a good bottle of wine while the moms are off on vacation, making love in some hotel room in Paris.
In the end...I think, Paul has done this family a great service but alas...it's not really acknowledged by the filmmakers (or characters). Make up your own mind.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Horrible treatment of Paul's character, July 16, 2011
By 
JD (Provo, Utah USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Kids Are All Right (DVD)
Hated the way the film treats Paul - the children bring him into the family and ultimately the whole family uses him and then cruelly discards him in the end. He was the only character that felt like a genuinely nice and real person. The rest of the cast are more messed up than he is but the film forgives them and demonizes him. Really a lame movie.
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I shouldn't be disappointed, but I am, just a little bit, July 25, 2010
This review is from: The Kids Are All Right (DVD)
Lisa Cholodenko's new film tackles topics whose time has come. While the nation continues to roil with debate about gay marriage, countless same-sex couples have quietly entered into partnerships as durable as any heterosexual pairing, and many of these have produced children, either through adoption, or as in the case of Nic and Jules, the couple played by Annette Bening and Julianne Moore in "The Kids Are All Right," artificial insemination, each having a baby by the same sperm donor (how common is this, I wonder?). Touching on another modern familial trend, their teenaged children Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and Laser (Josh Hutcherson) have decided to seek out their biological father (Mark Ruffalo), who turns out to be Paul, an organic farmer and restaurateur whose casual attitude toward relationships is in sharp contrast to the committed family unit he has unknowingly aided in producing.

Whatever his flaws, Paul nevertheless has something that has been lacking in their lives, and the children and Jules, the less driven of the two women, soon warm to him. The perfectionist, overachieving Nic hangs back warily, threatened by what she sees as the unthinking eagerness of her loved ones to steer into deep emotional waters. It is one of the outstanding virtues of Cholodenko's film that the twists and turns these five people's lives take after their initial contact seem, with one important exception, entirely natural and inevitable. Much credit has to go to the script by Cholodenko and co-writer Stuart Blumberg, so adept at catching the nuances of family life and friendship, particularly the way the strains of everyday existence and the routine of years together can chip away at genuine love to the point of collapse before anyone knows what has happened. This truth is beautifully limned in a moving climactic speech by Moore.

She is one of an altogether superb cast--Annette Bening's return to the screen is welcome and she plays Nic to absolute perfection (her silences are almost more eloquent than her words), while Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson are hardly less good as the children; Wasikowska in particular has a luminosity of a young Gwyneth Paltrow. That leaves Ruffalo, and though he has played the scruffy hunk role before, he does it very well, especially late in the film when he's conveying the bewilderment of a man who realizes, much too late, how far he is out of his depth.

***SPOILER ALERT***

So what's not to like? I suppose when it came to constructing the major plot crisis, it had to be the one Cholodenko and Blumberg chose. Only something that traumatic could have blown everyone's fragile happiness to smithereens, not to be put back together again except with agonizing care and no guarantee of success. Still, it's the one event that strikes a contrived note, and all the more disappointing because it plays into all of the sniggering stereotypes about a woman just needing the right man to show her the ropes. It seems churlish to complain when so much is right about "The Kids Are All Right," --but this flaw thereby seems the more glaring in comparison. Still, no one should be dissuaded from seeing this otherwise superb movie--there's too much great writing and acting in it, and food for thought long after it's over.
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The Kids Are All Right
The Kids Are All Right by Lisa Cholodenko (DVD - 2010)
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