The Kids Are Alright

THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT. Starring Mia Wasikowska, Mark Ruffalo, Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Yay DaCosta, Josh Hutcherson. Directed by Lisa Cholodenko. Arted MA 15+ (Strong sex scenes and infrequent drug use). 104 minutes.


Writer-director Lisa Cholodenko has been interested in relationships and families and, especially, the role of women, their behaviour and feelings.


This is a serious comedy with verve which keeps audiences interested, often amused, often challenged.


The two kids belong to a nuclear family, two parents, two children, one parent a doctor, the breadwinner, the other usually stays at home but has tried some careers and now intends to do garden landscaping.  One kid is 18, going to college, a science buff, the other 15 with the usual adolescent problems.  The difference is that the kids have two mums who have been in a relationship for the best part of twenty years.  Each has borne a child through artificial insemination.


The plot development shows the two mums, their personalities, the strong and controlling doctor (Annette Bening) and the softer, home mum (Julianne Moore).  While their own relationship has its particular characteristics and gender consequences, their parenting and dealing with their children's issues seems only too familiar from husband-wife marriage and rearing.


The son (Josh Hutcherson) wants to find out about the sperm donor for his and his sister's conception.  The daughter (Mia Wasikowska – Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland) makes enquiries and quite easily discovers Paul (Mark Ruffalo) and they meet.


As might be expected, Paul, now older and wiser and running a restaurant, is drawn into being something of a father-figure.  The mums have mixed feelings, the doctor hostile, thinking her role has been invaded.  Paul gives the landscaper a job and emotional complications follow.


Media often focus on issues of same-sex male families, parenting and adoption.  Here the drama is of female same-sex parents managing families.


There are funny moments, some serious reflection on contemporary issues.  Audiences who have previous views may not alter them one way or the other.  But, while the kids are all right, the presence of the male father-figure sometimes makes them better.


Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 2, 2010


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