Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Shut the front door

Last night I finally got a chance to see Lisa Cholodenko's The Kids are Alright. Incidentally, Wikipedia describes this as a "comedy film," but if someone can tell me one funny thing about this movie other than the fact that there is a character unironically named Laser, that would be helpful. Everyone else in L.A. has probably seen this movie already, so I'll synopsize just enough to say that Annette Bening and Julianne Moore play a couple who has been married for 20 years, and whose issues come to light when their 18- and 15-year-old children track down their shared sperm donor father.

I guess the main reason I was so excited about the movie was that it seemed very appropriate in the current cultural climate for there to be a positive portrayal about traditional families who happen to have a homosexual couple as parents. Bening's Nic is a career-driven doctor with a penchant for overindulgence when it comes to wine. Moore's Jules is a more flighty woman bouncing from one career endeavor to the next. Their kids Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and Laser (ugh; Josh Hutcherson) are trying to grow into their adult selves as eager teenagers always do, so they track down their biological father Paul (Mark Ruffalo). Paul's a well-meaning guy; he likes the kids, and he likes their moms, but he isn't sure what role they all want him to have in their family. He seeks out some more quality time with the kids, and offers to hire Jules to landscape his yard. Then he starts sleeping with her.

Once the characters are introduced, there's not a whole lot to remind you that the movie you're watching is any different than any other small story about infidelity. There's not much drama, no intrigue, just sadness. In this way, the film does reinforce its point that gay couples are no different to straight couples. Some people cheat, and they and their spouses/partners have to figure out what to do about that. And it affects the kids, and no one's happy. All in all, it was a pretty boring movie filled with great performances. It's worth a watch if you're fans of the actors, but be warned that it's more of a downer than it was advertised as being.

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