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Julian’s Rating: 10/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 9.5/10
(3 ratings total)
Lisa Cholodenko’s most recent film The Kids Are All Right is the perfect comedy-drama, with its phenomenal acting and simple yet profound writing.
Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore) are a happy couple living with their two children Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and Laser (Josh Hutcherson). Joni has just graduated from high school and is getting ready to head off to college. However, Laser wants to know who their biological father is, and Joni is the only one who can legally contact him. They decide to meet up with their father one day for lunch. It turns out that their father is a carefree restaurant owner named Paul (Mark Ruffalo). All goes smoothly, but when Nic and Jules find out about it, they decide that they want to meet him. This sets the entire family off on a hilarious and heartwarming journey.
Cholodenko’s hand in the making of the film is superb. The screenplay that she penned alongside The Girl Next Door writer Stuart Blumberg is absolutely wonderful. Funny but dramatic, light but powerful, it not only serves as a comedy-drama but as a coming-of-age story in some respects. Things happen to these characters, but the film isn’t simply plot point to plot point. Instead, the writing gives each of the characters some excellent depth and development without being ostentatious in any way, shape or form. As a director, Cholodenko doesn’t keep a tight rein on these fine actors; she lets them essentially do whatever they want, which paves the way for the characters’ true personalities to shine through.
With the wrong actors, this film could have been a real disaster. Even as much as one casting decision would have truly ruined the entire film. That being said, the film boasts amazing performances and is all the better for it. Bening is remarkable as the grounded Nic, and the less uptight Jules is perfectly portrayed by Moore. Bening steals the spotlight in every scene and has great chemistry with her co-stars, while Moore gets to be both wildly hysterical and incredibly dramatic.
Ruffalo fits the role of Paul like a glove with his instinctive acting and hilarious line delivery. At first, Wasikowska doesn’t do much with her role as the college-bound Joni, quite simply because there isn’t much to do. However, when she gets to her money scenes, she nails them out of the park. It’s almost as if she was born to play this role. Hutcherson provides some great supporting work as Laser.
“Kids” is a simple yet incredible tale about a family dealing with an unexpected situation. However, the title sells the film short. Truth be told, it isn’t all right. It’s the best film of 2010, and it’s absolutely perfect.
The Kids Are All Right
Directed by Lisa Cholodenko
Written by Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg
Starring: Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska, Josh Hutcherson
Other Player Affinity Reviews
Steven thought: “Hollywood’s family dramas have yet to break out of the traditional family structure for obvious albeit not necessarily defensible reasons, but independent film promoter Focus Features has found a gem of one in Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right. The film relies initially on our interest in the dynamic of a two-mother household and at times on some soap opera-like plot devices, but the film couldn’t be less shallow. The characters have remarkable depth and complexity and the writing and acting feels more sincere and genuine than any other indie film of this kind. There’s something about Cholodenko and co-writer Stuart Blumberg’s character writing and the terrific actors bringing them to life that creates an instantaneous connection where you know exactly how each main character feels and what they are thinking in a given moment. Ruffalo has never been better and Annette Bening’s performance will be up for discussion between now and February 27 as she stands out in terms of uniqueness and for the depth of her performance. Wasikowska has also established herself as a future dramatic star. Most importantly, The Kids Are All Right still touches on important family themes despite a more “radical” premise.” Rating: 9/10
Simon thought: “From what I first thought was simply an underwhelming feeling based on my high expectations, upon deeper thought I truly found The Kids Are All Right had in fact matched the many facets of my wishes; the acting was superb, the tone was what I imagined and the screenplay was earnest and deliberate. Though I thoroughly enjoyed this darkly-comedic drama, it simply came down to the fact its flaws shined through in the end. Writer/director Lisa Cholodenko has crafted an unusually touching screenplay with “Th Kids,” but some of the characters with which she inhabits her screenplay are thoroughly unlikable, even after their inevitable epiphanies. Sub-plots, which initially seem to be relevant to a larger dramatic end, are inexplicably left hanging and the frequent drastic tonal shifts between confrontations, forgiveness, confrontations, forgiveness begin to grind over time. The performances cannot be held to any type of fault however with Mark Ruffalo owning every scene with his subtle hipster charms, Annette Bening doing great work with her mostly unsympathetic character and Julianne Moore giving the best performance of her career. Though I would still thoroughly recommend this earnest yet frequently overly melodramatic effort, I do so with reservations and with the hope you connect with the substantial praise this film carries more than I did.” Rating: 7.5/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 8.8/10