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There is a very small portion of our readership that goes bananas with hatred when we give any kind of positive review to any film which includes homosexual characters. If that's you, save us all some time and read something else, 'cuz Cranky (who happens to be straight) is going to do it again . . .
IN SHORT: An exceptional sit for us grown ups. [Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and some teen drug and alcohol use. 104 minutes]
Give props to a happy loving couple of about 20 years or so who still enthusiastically shred the sheets on a regular basis. Said couple would be Nic (Annette Bening), a doctor, and Jules (Julianne Moore), who hasn't settled on a career choice in decades. As this film begins, the latter has decided to give landscaping a try. Partner Nic gives the requisite support but seems not to expect all that much.
Each member of this partnership has one child, by artificial insemination from the same doner. Thus daughter Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and son Laser (Josh Hutcherson) are biological brother and sister. When Joni reaches the first legal marker of adulthood, her 18th birthday, 15-year-old Laser asks the only favor he has ever asked of her in his entire life . . . he wants Joni to help him find their biological father. Against her better judgment, Joni honors her brother's request and begins the legal process of approach and contact with "bio-dad." Said "Dad" is sent a letter informing him that the product of his sperm cell donations, wish to make contact with him; eventually, if possible, culminating in a face to face sit down. All nice and mellow, California style.
Said donor is Paul (Mark Ruffalo), an organic restaurateur who remembers little more than how much he was paid for each pop of bio-fertilizer. He meets with the children. He likes the children and decides that, if they wish it to be, more meetings could be arranged so that more information can be exchanged and friendships -- dare we even speculate as to "familial friendships" -- may come to be. For our happy foursome, an unexpected new chapter begins for them. Jules is offered a gig, to design the yards of Paul's new home. That means a lot of time at the new location and all that time away kindles an attraction between boss and employee and, yeah, there goes the story of the film.
The Kids Are All Right offers up a delicious dish of menage, served up hot and bubbling and mixed in ways no one outside of a blacked out screening room could have seen coming. Nic is perfectly happy popping some gay porn into the DVD as the alternative to foreplay and Jules is more than happy to finish the deal. Across town, while Paul has a dusky partner of his own to fulfill his wild and crazy desires, that hookup is just a friend with benefits. The affair with Jules opens the door, he thinks, to the racially balanced family he wants. For Jules, the clandestine affair stirs a yearning which has been ignored for years and years.
Which brings us back to Nic, and the Who song of the title which goes:
In this case, though, Nic does mind and family ties are defined, re-defined. Paul wants a family and a solid traditional family style life, even if it includes a lesbian wife who has fallen to the bisexual "dark side" and is trying to please two masters. Nic isn't going to have any of that. The always noncommittal Jules is stuck in the middle, having to make a concrete decision for once in her life.
And it may sound simple but simple is, in this case, a terrific sit.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Kids Are All Right, he would have paid . . .
Not as single lick by The Who in the entire flick. shame shame shame <vbg>
Because if momma knew about the process underway, she would have popped a small volcano right out there in HappyLand. (and said volcano would have ruined the back yard [landscape design being constructed by Jules who, after a dozen years as a house mom, has finally set her sites on some kind of work she would like to do. The preceding paragraph was all theory. Jules hasn't managed to get anything out of her head and off the ground in years.
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