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by Peter Knegt
July 6, 2010 11:36 AM
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Big Screen | Cholodenko's Anticipated "Kids" Opens To Raves

A scene from Lisa Cholodenko's "The Kids Are All Right." Image courtesy of Focus Features.

One of the most anticipated specialty releases of the summer, Lisa Cholodenko's "The Kids are All Right," finally arrives in theaters this week amidst a batch of newcomers that also includes Ben Steinbauer's festival circuit favorite "Winnebago Man" and the sequel to "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo," Swedish import "The Girl Who Played With Fire," which is being released just a few months after its predecessor. But despite warm notices for both "Girl" and "Man," the critic's pick this week is most certainly "Kids."

The film, which premiered to a rapturous response at Sundance earlier this year, details a tempestuous summer in the lives of Nic and Jules (Annette Bening and Julianne Moore), a couple anticipating their daughter Joni's move to college. Joni (Mia Wasikowska) has just turned 18, and her younger brother Laser (Josh Hutcherson) wants her to make use of her newfound status as a legal adult to seek out the sperm donor to which both of them were born from. Enter Paul (Mark Ruffalo), who immediately hits it off with his newfound biological children and in turn begins to send the family into quite the emotional tailspin.

indieWIRE's Eric Kohn writes in his review that "the real intelligence of 'All Right' lies with the intelligently crafted interactions between Moore and Bening, perhaps the only lesbian parents given such extensive screen time in film history. As they oscillate from fighting to reconciliation and back again, their dialogue retains an ongoing authenticity."

Other raves come care of New York Magazine's David Edelstein, who says that "the self-satire of 'The Kids Are All Right' is so knowing, so rich, so hilarious, so damn healthy that it blows all thoughts of degeneracy out of your head," while Salon's Andrew O'Hehir goes so far as to say that the film "ranks with the most compelling portraits of an American marriage, regardless of sexuality, in film history."

It's Entertainment Weekly's Lisa Schwarzbaum, though, that may have the distinction of writing "Kids" most affectionate review: "I don't know what's more delightful," she writes, "that 'The Kids Are All Right' stars Bening, Moore, and Ruffalo at the top of their games in an irresistible story of lesbian marriage, sperm-donor fatherhood, sex, red wine, and teen angst. Or that this warm, funny, sexy, smart movie erases the boundaries between specialized ''gay content'' and universal ''family content' with such sneaky authority. So let's say both, and give high fives (or whatever they give in Southern California) to director Lisa Cholodenko ('High Art,' 'Laurel Canyon') and her co-writer, Stuart Blumberg, for using the components of a commercial dramedy to cross boundaries with such indie élan."

Not everyone was entirely pleased. The New Yorker's Anthony Lane wrote a fairly negative review, in which he said that "there are not only glancing moments but whole sequences in this movie when the agony of social embarrassment makes you want to haul the characters to their feet and slap them in the chops."

Lane is most definitely in the minority, though, and even he'd probably agree that "Kids" is a better alternative than most Hollywood offerings. Check out links to "Kids"'s indieWIRE page as well as other films opening this weekend, plus recent theatrical releases below. They include synopses, trailers, and a variety of criticWIRE grades and links to reviews.

iW Film Calendar & criticWIRE:
criticWIRE | Opening this week | Opening this month | All Films A - Z

criticWIRE: Films Opening This Week

The Kids Are All Right (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

Winnebago Man (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

The Girl Who Played With Fire (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

[REC] 2 (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B-


criticWIRE: Films Currently In Theaters

Dogtooth (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: A-

The Agony and the Ectascy of Phil Spector (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: A-

Restrepo (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

I Am Love (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

Winter's Bone (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

Cyrus (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

Lovers of Hate (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

Micmacs (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

8: The Mormon Proposition (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B-

Let It Rain (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B-

Solitary Man (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: C+

South of the Border (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: C+

The Killer Inside Me (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: C+

Stonewall Uprising (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: C+

Agora (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: C-

Love Ranch (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: D+

Peter Knegt is indieWIRE's Associate Editor. Follow him on Twitter and on his blog.

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