The Kids Are All Right
Though the film was not as funny or playful as the trailers made it out to be, there was a lot more sadness mixed with elements of hope than I had expected in Lisa Cholodenko’s latest film, THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT. We are introduced to a modern family full of everyday quirks and squabbles in the midst of two milestones: one, The kids, Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and Laser (Josh Hutcherson), have decided to meet their birth father, Paul (Mark Ruffalo). two, Joni is leaving for college at the end of the summer. Both parents, Nic (Annette Benning) and Jules (Julianne Moore), have a lot of emotions to sort through with these two events as well as the friction they face within their relationship.
I don’t know what I would do if I were in their shoes. If I had the chance to meet my birthfather, would I? How would I react if a child I didn’t know reached out to me 18 years after being born? If my child contacted his/her birth father behind my back, would I be gracious and ok with this decision? Cholodenko’s story has real moments but I felt like it held back in almost every scene. In places where there could have been a lot of humor and heart it was blah or in other areas where there could have been more drama it felt flat.
Despite that, I must compliment the casting selection for this film. I’m not sure if any other actor could have filled these shoes as I cannot picture any other actor doing the characters justice. Just watching the various family interactions, you will feel as though you are a voyeur catching a glimpse of a family as the mundane everyday is shaken up. Annette Benning and Julianne Moore play the yin and yang couple effortlessly and I have to give props to Mark Ruffalo for his standard performance. (Am I the only one who sees him doing the same ‘thing’ in every movie?) Hutcherson as Laser did a nice job as the surly teen and I really liked how he slowly warmed to the idea of having a relationship with Paul. Almost like Paul was the father figure he had been missing during the first sixteen years of his life. Lastly Wasikowska’s performance as naïve Joni was pure and sweet. First seeing her in ALICE IN WONDERLAND and now in this film, I foresee Wasikowaska having a long and fulfilling career as an actress.
Another random compliment for the film is the perfect wardrobe selection for each character. From the outfits alone you know and recognized the assorted personalities in this movie. Perfectly done.
In spite of the above compliments, I was disappointed with THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT. Disappointed with several of the characters choices, disappointed with my expectations and disappointed that there wasn’t ‘more’ from this picture.