Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Film Review: The Kids Are All Right

Seeing as we've gotten some great epic films such as Inception and Toy Story 3, it's easy to overlook some of these other great film opening in limited release. In a Summer so unrewarding, Lisa Cholodenko delivers more perfectly timed entertainment than most of the bloated blockbusters out right now. Her new film, The Kids Are All Right, is a suburban comedy focusing on the kids of lesbian parents Jules (Julianne Moore) and Nic (Annette Bening). The family is very unconventional, and while it never once seems unrealistic, we get that the family isn't the way they should be. A change needs to happen.

That's when the kids get in contact with their sperm donor, Paul (Mark Ruffalo), a slacker in the food service industry. His interactions with this family put them through a string of unexpected twists and turns that put their family bond to the test. While there are so many different stories being followed in this film, the one that I most related to was Joni (Mia Wasikowska), a girl who is about to go to college and leave everything behind, all while these changes are shaping her life. The ending to this film really had me in tears in a way that no other live-action film has done this Summer.

The entire cast does absolutely breathtaking work in their roles. Annette Bening isn't an actress I follow that much, but I should, because she always gives these honest performances that strike me as pure. Along the way, you may be wondering how I could possibly think her the best actress in this film, but by the end you'll realize. Mark Ruffalo does a great job portraying a slacker at his core. Deep down, he wants a family, but he isn't willing to do all the extra work. Mia Wasikowska really breaks through with this film, after her uninspiring turn in Alice in Wonderland. This film isn't completely hers, but every scene she's in is. I wouldn't be surprised if Bening, Ruffalo, and Wasikowska all get acting nominations come awards season.

Julianne Moore was pretty good as Jules, and carefully puts us on the edge of the confrontations through the film. The audience is never quite sure of what's right and what's wrong, and she embodies that sort of curiosity. Josh Hutcherson is actually a good young actor. I've never had a problem with any of his roles, but he's always felt like a Disney kid because he's starred in a lot of Disney films. It's nice to see that he's no longer bound by that company, and he displays such a great attitude as any son of two lesbian parents would. He'd kind of have to.

Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg's script has such comic timing on its own, so it seems even more natural when it's said. Everything feels like it works, and the dialogue never once feels forced. It doesn't feel like somebody else is putting the words in their mouths. The Kids Are All Right depicts the best portrayal of a real family that I've probably seen since Juno. Comedies don't usually score with the Academy, but this is more than just a comedy. It's an original film about growing up and growing old. This is one of my favorite films of the year, and it won't be forgotten when Oscar season comes swirling by.


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