Friday, August 06, 2010

‘The Kids Are All Right’– Well acted dramedy touches the heart…

‘The Kids Are All Right’ is a wonderful, yet unconventional look at the modern family and the trials the family unit faces. Lisa Cholodenko (The L Word, 1 episode) directed and wrote this amazing film that is about many things but centers around a young girl who is ready to head out into the world, college bound, away from her home and two Moms, Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore). Joni (Mia Wasikowska, ‘Alice in Wonderland’) is eighteen years old and while easily irritated by her parents, loves them none-the-less. Getting ready to head off to college, she begins to assert her independence in the most unusual way, at the prodding of her 15 year old brother, Laser (Josh Hutcherson), she contacts their biological/sperm donor father Paul (Mark Ruffalo) who has never meant the kids or even knew the existed.

This is a film that could have easily fallen into the standard ‘dramedy’ trap – going for the cheap laughs and easy tears. The dialogue is inspired and the acting flawless; Ruffalo gives one of his best performances, his maturity as an actor is beginning to show and I dare say that I would consider him to be one of the finest of this generation. As always Moore and Bening are stunning as the long married couple who so obviously love each other yet face the same issues we all face day to day. The acting is so good here you don’t realize that you are watching a film – you believe that you are watching a family. Joni is the put upon teenager being forced to write thank you cards for graduation gifts; Laser hangs out with a friend that is a total bad influence; Nic is a stressed out, doctor who loves her wine a little too much; Jules is a directionless stay-at-home parent who is starting to feel the bite of the empty nest.

Paul (Ruffalo) enters into the picture when he is sought out by the kids who suddenly want to discover their roots. Paul is like a tornado, all laid back, natural and organic, full of sleepy charm and completely lovable. The kids are enamored by him (although Laser does take time to warm to him) and he is immediately intrigued by the ‘Moms’ (‘I love lesbians!’ he declares to Joni in their first phone conversation); he enjoys chatting about his restaurant and organic farm as much as he enjoys learning about the kids and the moms. Paul is real and Rufalo adds a depth to him that is refreshing and delightful. Soon, however, Paul and Jules develop an attraction and things become complicated; just as life is complicated; Paul swoops in like a tornado, stirring up the lives of this small family and they become forever changed.

Changes can be good and changes can be bad we learn in the film, but change is something that we cannot fight as Nic learns as her daughter fights for her independence. Eventually, we learn though, ‘The Kids Are All Right’ and so is this 4 star effort!

This week’s Redbox pick stars Pierce Bronson and Ewan McGregor in the Roman Polanski thriller ‘The Ghost Writer’ – a 4 star effort about a gifted ghost writer (McGregor) who is hired to write the memoirs of a former British Prime Minister (Bronson) who has a bit of a scandalous past. Well worth the trip to the corner and a single $1.00!

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