DVD RvReview: The Kids Are All Right

Was The Kids Are All Right all right? Let’s find out what Ross McG thought. And let’s hope there aren’t any more lame jokes like that in his review.

The Kids Are All Right (four stars)

So what if it doesn’t have a sequence in which Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis make out inside Natalie Portman’s head? This year’s other Oscar-nominated lesbian movie has enough charm to make it riveting in its own understated way. Just as Raging Bull isn’t really about boxing and Jaws isn’t really about a big shark, The Kids Are All Right isn’t really about lesbianism. Yes, Annette Bening and Julianne Moore play two married matriarchs looking after their two teenage children, but the film could be about any family, dealing as it does with love, fun, frustration, betrayal and forgiveness.

Writer/director Lisa Cholodenko learns from the mistakes of her earlier LA-set effort, 2002’s Laurel Canyon. While the characters in that film failed to ring true amid some seriously overwrought navel-gazing, here they are compellingly human: brilliantly funny and terrifically flawed. As ever, it is their faults that make them more interesting. Things become complicated when the couple’s kids of the title (Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson) decide to meet their sperm-donating father, played by the big ball of hot fuzz that is Mark Ruffalo. The acting lovechild of Jeff Bridges and Steve McQueen, if anyone can make a lesbian go straight it’s ruffly Ruffalo. He’s an actor who can say a thousand words with one throwaway grin. Not a lot happens in The Kids Are All Right but that doesn’t matter: a close-up of Bening’s face during a quiet dinner scene says so much more than any helicopter explosion can.

This review first appeared in the Metro newspaper.

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5 Responses to “DVD RvReview: The Kids Are All Right”

  1. That final line is just perfect.

  2. Wasn’t a huge fan of this movie. As you stated, not much happens in the movie and that bored me to tears. The performances were good but I still don’t get why Bening got so much acclaim for playing essentially the same character she has played over the last 20 years.

  3. Aw Castor, come on. I’d watch two hours of Ruffalo doing dishes if someone put it on the big screen

  4. It was an OK dramedy but I was expecting more of an emotional punch from this film because of the talent involved. Good Review!

  5. I also loved this movie. Bening was phenomenal at the dinner scene, going from that funny/charming rendition of Joni Mitchell and then to that devastating close-up after she finds out her lover was cheating on her.

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