BY CYNTHIA RODRIGUEZ
"THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT"
Directed by Lisa Cholodenko
Starring Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Mark Ruffalo
"The Kids Are All Right" is more than all right because of the outstanding acting by the above mentioned actors. Even the kids held their own. I don't think it would have been as good if it were a bunch of nobodies. I have to say it wasn't exactly what I expected though. On one hand, I think it's wonderful that a movie about Lesbian parents was able to reel in some big actors that have been in more mainstream movies. Although, at the same time I am not surprised that in order to see it, I had to go to our local indie film theatre which will usually feature the movies you know they won't show at your local mall. A lot of them end up being the "Sundance Festival" films and/or the ones you know will become an IFC cult favorite. I don't know if it's because it was opening weekend or an early Saturday afternoon, but oddly enough, there seemed to have been a significant number of senior citizens in the theatre when I walked in just in time and sat all the way at the front when the film was about to begin. I know this for a fact because even in the almost pitch black dark towards the end of the last preview, I felt like I was completed surrounded by a lot of white haired heads. I thought to myself, "Great, it's like watching a lesbian film with Grandma. Do they even know this is about LESBIANS? What are they doing here? This should be interesting. If there are any sex scenes, this is gonna feel a little awkward."
I always find it intriguing how Hollywood deals with gay. Sure, it's come a long way. See: "The Celluloid Closet" (which by the way, I watched at the same theatre.) Yes, they've gone from the ideals of us being either just a bunch of sissies, butches, and deviants, to gay-sploiting us to their advantage to the now somewhat attempts to show that we can be "normal" like everyone else, such as getting married, and having the perfect little family.
Summary: (which I'm sure you've already heard, read about, or have seen the trailer) A very long term relationship Lesbian couple raising two teenagers they each gave birth to thanks to the local sperm bank. One is the artistic, new agey "house wife" who has been trying to find her niche in employment in like forever, the other the bread-winning established professional ( A Doctor ). The 18 year old daughter is getting ready to go off to college. The son, he's like the typical 15 or 16 year old that hangs out with his prickish little friends and rides his skateboard. The son, endlessly curious about their biological father makes his sister track down their "bio-Dad" who turns out to be a motorcycle riding, carefree, lovable bachelor who runs some organic, hippie, co-op type of restaurant. Apparently meeting him is not enough. They introduce him to the rest of the family, and that's where the havoc begins. What starts as seemingly innocent get togethers, and just hanging out turns into an invasion of the estrogen controlled household he helped create that exposes the maybe not so perfect world they thought they had.
It's dificult to dislike any of the main characters in the film. Annette Bening's "Nic" is a little uptight but cool as shit. Julianne Moore's "Jules" is cute as hell, and Mark Ruffalo's slightly flawed "Paul" is the most adorable I've seen him since "13 Going On 30". In the end you just want everything to work out for all of them. There is really no "villian", which I don't think is usually the case in any film.
Now for my take on the whole thing withought doing the spoilers: I appreciate their attempt at showing that a gay couple can do it just like everybody else. Have a long time partner, have children, work, etc. And also that any marriage be it straight or gay especially after a lot of years together can have it's ups and downs, just like everybody else. What I'm a little torn on is the relationship that begins to develop between one of the Moms (Jules: Julianne Moore), and the bio-Dad Paul (Mark Ruffalo). Part of me is afraid it will perpetuate the myth that I believe many feel that all a Lesbian needs is a good man to "change her ways". I mean, I see where they are coming from but I feel people will misunderstand and not realize that in the end, when it comes to that part, it really has nothing to do with anyone's sexuality at all. It also doesn't help that there is more hetero-sex featured in the film than between the two women. Sometimes I think they do that in these types of movies so it will appeal more to the mainstream masses. I believe that as long as people are open to and comprehend that when watching the film, they can truly hold dear the lessons they can learn from the film. A lot of times I think that when people, particularly the straights watch a Lesbian themed film, that they think they will be in for some good girl on girl action. That is not always the case. Afterall, we DO have other things to do as well. It's not always about the sex. Sometimes it has nothing to do with that at all. We work and play like everyone else, but we just happen to be of that sexual orientation.
So, when people come at us with their snide remarks regarding all of the above, you can always say (my favorite line in the movie by Annette Bening), “I need your observations like I need a dick in my ass.”
Not that there is anything wrong with that. Just sayin'.