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March 7, 2011 | by  | in Arts Film | [ssba]

The Kids Are All Right

Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right is a cutesy social commentary with a staggeringly simple premise: it’s a family drama, with lesbians. A stellar-cast rom-com with one great big dykey twist.

It should have been every liberal movie-goer’s wet dream. Starring Annette Benning and Julianne Moore as the aforementioned couple, the story picks up as the aging pair start falling out of love and their teenage kids decide to meet their biological father. While this film was a leading pick in the nominations of several notable awards ceremonies, including the Oscars, its tangible trophy collection is lacking and reviews have not been entirely positive, to say the least. So while The Kids Are All Right does indeed bring some much needed laughter and pragmatism on LGBT politics in America, its progressive intentions do not half make up for its awkward execution.

Don’t get me wrong, The Kids were alright, well, more than alright really. The emerging young actors Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson, playing the kids in this film, do a fantastic job as the couple’s artificially inseminated children; it’s their parents I’m worried about. I found Benning and Moore’s over-characterization and awkward sense of humour unsettling and certainly not laugh-out-loud hilarious.
Furthermore, the neurotic relationship between the two resembles less that of well-intentioned middle class parents and more a couple of crazy lesbians which, considering the film’s progressive and anti-Prop 8 motivations, is not exactly ideal.

Rather paradoxically, however, in its attempts to convey the whole situation as usual and unchallenging, the film largely glosses over crucial, though inherently controversial, issues. The folksy liberal dialogue goes to great lengths to explain that ‘marriage is hard’ in any form and that ‘love knows no bounds’ (in not so many words) while completely circumventing the politics and the social challenges of single parent families. For an awareness-raising, issue-driven film, it doesn’t do an amazing job. So in the end, The Kids were okay, I guess; timely, almost enjoyable, and its two female romantic leads do make it a milestone flick in popular cinema. You even get to see a middle-aged Julianne Moore doing the nasty, even if it’s not with her female co-star. Ah well. Maybe next time.

[ssba]

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