The Kids Are All Right is the third feature film by Lisa Cholodenko. The basic plot is simple. Nic and Jules (played by Annette Bening and Julianne Moore, respectively) are a middle-aged lesbian couple about to bid their daughter Joni (played by Mia Wasikowska) adieu as she goes off to college. Now that she's 18, she can get in touch with her sperm-donor father Paul (played by Mark Ruffalo), which she does, and he knocks all their preciously balanced lives off kilter. I liked the first two-thirds of this movie, then it kinda ran off track. I wouldn't mind watching it again, but I don't really need to.
- The acting - The five main actors in TKAAR do well. Four of the five are charming and sympathetic. These are people that I might want to get to know. For the first two thirds of the movie, I was content getting to know these characters.
- The setting - Maybe I'm just coming out of my winter hibernation, but I really enjoyed looking at all the sunny, warm, green lusciousness of Los Angeles. If movies are about making us wish we were somewhere else, then this movie accomplished that for me.
- I liked the normality and banality of Nic and Jules's relationship. The sooner we realize that other people are, in fact, other people, the sooner we will get over our foolish hangups and hatred.
- The title
- Option A: I read that the title borrows from a song by The Who of the same a similar name. If so, that suggests that the titular "kids" are really the parents. But are the parents all right? One parent is inattentive, controlling, and struggling with alcohol; the other is (apparently) irresponsible, cheating, and perhaps sexually confused. The second mother may also be going through a mid-life crisis. If the titular kids are the actual parents, then they don't seem to be all right.
- Option B: If the titular "kids" are, in fact, the kids, then the title answers a question nobody asked. Are the kids all right? Why is that even a question? Is this a comment on same-sex couples raising children? As in, Don't worry - the kids are just fine without having a male father figure, and if he ever shows up, he'll only mess things up. And if the titular kids are the actual kids, why don't they have character arcs?
- Sidenote: Maybe it's a generational thing, but would the kind of people who name their children after Joni Mitchell also listen to The Who? They seem sort of like opposities to me.
- Character development - I just have some questions.
- Was there any real indication that Jules is irresponsible? The work history I remember is that she went to school to be an architect, but stopped pursuing that career path when they had children. (I would be hard-pressed to call stay-at-home mothers irresponsible.) Then, at some point later, she opened a furniture store that didn't quite work out. (Like Paul said, "Businesses are hard.") And now she is pursuing a third business, as part of which she fires a guy she thinks has a drug problem. Maybe you can say that sleeping with your client is irresponsible, but it seems like two different senses of the word.
- Why does Nic get to act like the innocent victim of Jules's infidelity? Nic was inattentive, controlling, judgmental, and possibly alcoholic. Nobody deserves to be cheated on, but it's not like Nic's hands were clean.
- Why do we care that Joni and Laser (really? Am I supposed to believe that someone who would name their child after Joni Mitchell would name another child Laser?) have their unique talents?
- Why does Nic call Paul "self-satisfied"? Paul seems like a decent guy living a decent life before he met Jules.
- Fridge Logic - If I presented to you two character portraits, one of Nic and one of Jules, who do you think would be more likely to have a child first?