THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT (Dir. Lisa Cholodenko, 2010)
It’s fun to see Annette Bening and Julianne Moore as a long time Los Angeles lesbian couple laugh it up sitting together clutching wine glasses in this much buzzed about indie. Their laughter is infectious, their dialogue is witty, and their movie’s premise plays out nicely.
Bening and Moore, from the same anonymous sperm donor, have teenage kids – a son (Josh Hutcherson) and a daughter (Mia Waskikowka). On the daughter’s 18th birthday, she and her brother contact the sperm bank with the hopes of meeting their biological father. That turns out to be Mark Ruffalo as an easy going motorcycle-riding organic restaurant owner. Ruffalo is smilingly open to the prospect of having a new family to get to know.
Perhaps too open as (Spoiler Alert!) Moore and Ruffalo succumb to animal desires in a weak moment. Rarely without a glass of red wine in her hand, Bening voices cynical concern over Ruffalo’s presence and influence in their family. Bening spouts out to Moore: “He’s not a father, he’s our sperm donor!” Their believable couple chemistry makes their one on one scenes stand out.
Ruffalo charms everyone in sight, Moore searches for a clue about what her next move should be, Bening has more wine, the kids seem able to cope with change (hence the film’s title), and every one has sharp quips – most thankfully not of the snarky “Juno” variety.
Director Cholodenko (HIGH ART, LAUREL CANYON), who co-wrote with Stuart Blumberg, has made a endearing funny film that though maybe stilted by predictable conventions, and some of the same schematics employed on episodic television (Cholodenko has directed episodes of Six Feet Under, The L Word, and Homicide), I genuinely laughed enough throughout that such things could be overlooked.
THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT is an art house crowd pleaser if there ever was one, and in a sea of cloying comic indies (see CITY ISLAND for instance) it’s a likable, if not lovable keeper.