Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Kids Are All Right (2010) [R] ****+

Eighteen-year-old Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and fifteen-year-old Laser (Josh Hutcherson) are children of lesbian parents Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore). Each woman bore one of the children, but both used the same sperm-donor. Nic and Jules could not be more different; the older Nic is a controlling, highly-stressed physician, while the younger Jules is a sensual, go-with-the-flow creative type who is starting a new vocation in landscape design.

Joni, Nic's biological daughter, is a brilliant student who is preparing for college, in contrast to her younger brother Laser, Jules' biological son, who is directionless, and has fallen under the influence of a thrill-seeking, cocaine-addicted classmate. Laser becomes curious about the identity of his sperm-donor father, and convinces Joni to take the steps to contact him. They discover that Paul (Mark Ruffalo) is a laid-back restaurant owner and organic gardener. And when the two teenagers introduce Paul to their Moms Nic and Jules, Paul discovers that he is becoming part of their family unit, with some serious, unintended consequences.

On one level this film asks some interesting sociological questions. How does one select a sperm donor – is it based on genetic history, educational achievement, financial success, IQ, physical appearance? Is parenting defined as: (a) the biological donation of sperm or egg; (b) carrying the fetus in your womb for nine months; or (c) nursing, nurturing and raising the child for eighteen years after it is born? And what connection does a sperm donor have to the parenting process, nearly twenty years later? While the individual performances are excellent, particularly Bening, Moore and Ruffalo, the film's thematic material, its offensive language and depiction of teenage drug use, as well as its intense, gratuitous sexuality, is likely to make some viewers very uncomfortable, especially younger viewers who might otherwise benefit from viewing it. 

Labels: comedy, drama    
Internet Movie Database    
Metacritic 86/100    
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=78, viewers=72)    

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