criticWIRE rating: B+
According to early reviews for Lisa Cholodenka new film “The Kids Are All Right,” the phrase just ‘all right’ doesn’t do the picture justice. With the exception of Justin Lowe’s review for The Hollywood Reporter, the film is said to be all heart, and a realistic portrayal of the trials of familial love.
Set in sunny southern California, the movie tells the story of lesbian couple, Nic and Jules, played by Annette Bening and Julian Moore respectively, who hit a tough spot when their two children decide to find their biological father. Paul, played by Marc Ruffalo, shows up on the scene, and the kids immediate affection for him mixed with Jules surprising sexual attraction and Nic’s resistance to a new parental figure create the necessary alchemy for an explosive unearthing of the leading characters’ vulnerabilities and weaknesses.
Betsey Sharkey writes for the Los Angeles Times “Witty, urbane and thoroughly entertaining, “The Kids Are All Right” is an ode to the virtues of family, in this case a surprisingly conventional one even with its two moms, two kids and one sperm donor. Whatever your politics, between peerless performances, lyrical direction and an adventurous script, this is the sort of pleasingly grown-up fare all too rare in the mainstream daze of this very dry summer.” Kevin Kelley’sreview for Cinematical strikes a similar high note, praising the film for it’s realism and proximity to the lives of every-day people “directer Lisa Cholodenko, who co-wrote the script with Stuart Blumberg, has created a realistic family film for the times we live in. Everyone could probably spot themselves in one of these characters, worrying about their own relationships, or realizing that life might not be what they expected.”
Todd McCarthy’s LAFF roundup for indieWIRE also praises Cholodenko, and claims that, despite a seemingly niche topic, the movie has widespread appeal “Directing a script that shows every sign of having been deepened and enriched many times over, Cholodenko takes a major step beyond her work on “High Art” and “Laurel Canyon” with a film that has as good shot as any other current indie-flavored feature of getting a tenuous foothold in mainstream territory.”
While Justin Lowe concurs that the film is generally well-written and believable with excellent performances by the leads, he also argues that, aside from the lesbian twist, the film lacks the genuine originality required of a great movie. He writes “An otherwise conventional romantic comedy centering on the mid-life parenting issues of a long-time lesbian couple, this love letter to gay-marriage supporters is respectably entertaining filmmaking, it’s just not exceptional.”