Wednesday, December 15, 2010

At the Movies: The Kids are Alright

Last weekend the bf and I rented The Kids are Alright, the tale of Laser (Josh Hutcherson) and Joanie (Mia Waskowska), the children of lesbian mothers who track down their biological father. Their mothers, Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julieanne Moore), have one of those ying yang relationships in which one partner (Nic) is the level-headed, plan-happy breadwinner and the other (Jules) is the free-wheeling, unstructured dreamer. Although different, they're presented as happy and even playful together, fixtures of marital bliss in their magazine-worthy home. Theirs is an order-to-chaos-to-order story in which the kids' father, Paul (Mark Ruffalo), rides in on the proverbial motorcycle to shake up the easy and privileged domesticity to which this stable, upper middle-class family has become accustomed.

Ungrounded and devil-may-care, Paul is a college-dropout-slash-loner who has managed to build a successful organic food business. Joanie and (eventually) Laser are charmed by him, and Jules laughs at all of his jokes. Paul even hires Jules to landscape his yard, an event that begins to splinter the fledgling fault lines rising to the surface of Nic and Jules's relationship.

Before long, Paul and Jules start sleeping together. Partly because Paul is that kind of guy, and partly because being with Jules gives him the chance to imagine having the family he's beginning to dream of in his lonely middle age. As for Jules, she falls for the sense of acceptance that Paul provides. Appreciative of her budding landscaping business, Paul seems to respect her in a way that Nic does not, or at least hasn't in a long time.

Nevertheless, Paul and Jules are not meant to be, because The Kids are Alright isn't that kind of movie. Rather, the rift created by first Paul's presence and then his and Jules's affair serves to cast the family's issues out into the open, forcing resolutions and ultimately allowing the four of them to become even more tightly bound to each other than before.

Overall, it was pretty good, as witty, thought-provoking, and rawly emotional as any indie flick worth its salt.

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