The Kids Are Alright is a 15-minute short film with a high-concept that feels artificially stretched into a full-length film. The movie is well acted but the characters feel like cardboard cutouts. The movie doesn’t believe in it’s own characters. The movie wants to be an open, honest exploration about what it’s like to have a non-traditional lesbian family – but it’s everything but that.
The dialog seems like it was pulled from a magazine full of bad liberal clichés. It feels as if people who used to be progressives, but want people to think they still are wrote this movie. Everyone sits around talking about composting, organic gardening, and being sperm donors but I never felt like there was conviction in any of these topics coming from director/writer Lisa Cholodenko. It’s never even explained what these things really mean. They are just hot “liberal” buzz words.
Each character starts off promising but there’s no real growth or change in anyone. Ruffalo was hard to relate to, in the beginning he’s a both a slacker, surfer dude type of guy who talks about how irresponsible he is, but then he also owns two successful businesses. When his kids reach out to him, he takes it in a “devil may care” attitude. The word “cool” is used a LOT in this movie.
Mark Ruffalo’s character doesn’t really become a part of the family, he sorts of rips it apart and the only one who sees what’s going on is Annette Bening who is portrayed as a “domineering-shrew” throughout most of the movie. You can’t blame Ruffalo however, his character sees what a great family this is and he desperately wants to be part of it. But Ruffalo never conveys this “desperation,” he’s too detached from the character.
I also hate movies about Lesbians where it resorts to the tired cliché of one of them inevitably straying from the relationship – with a man. The entire 2nd act of the movie falls apart for me, because of this. Julianne Moore just comes across as constantly whining about her lot in life.
With all this said, The Kids Are All Right is fine, there’s enough here that kept me interested, but it isn’t a a barn burner and the acting is fine, but not great.
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Originally posted 12.12.10