The Kids Are All Right (Lisa Cholodenko, 2010)

07Dec10

Julianne Moore (Jules), Annette Bening (Nic), Mark Ruffalo (Paul), Mia Wasikowska (Joni), Josh Hutcherson (Laser). Screenplay by Stuart Blumberg and Lisa Cholodenko. Directed by Lisa Cholodenko. Rating: 15. Running time: 106 minutes.

A sex-obsessed piece of ‘hipster’ cinema, The Kids Are Alright tries to give us the colour palette and witty dialogue of modern hits like Juno, but falls flat on all fronts because of its absolutely ridiculous happenings. The concept of observing a lesbian couple with two children by virtue of a sperm donor may sound like fertile ground for an interesting film, but I thought it obvious the number one thing that categorically must not happen in any circumstances whatsoever, was for one of the dykes to fall for the anonymous man they eventually meet through the curiosity of their children, shagging him constantly for a good week or so before being discovered and nearly obliterating her family.

I’m not sure whether this is realistic in the context of the film’s events as they unfold, but that’s not the point. The problem is that someone thought it would be cool to make a film that proceeds along these lines, as if we haven’t seen enough of cinematic adultery and potential break-ups down the years. The fact the filmmakers attempt to convey it as a laughing matter doesn’t make this fresh; it just makes it implausible, insensitive and outright silly. Some fifteen year old boys are innocently brusque and humorous, but I fail to see what would be so funny, for a family on the verge of breakdown, about him cleverly remarking that his two mothers should not split up because they are ‘too old.’ They both laugh at this, exchange a knowing look, and give us a clear indicator that happy times are back after a nice breezy fling for one of them with the man who helped create their children.

I must have missed something, you might say – few have come out of this without a decently sized smile on their faces. I accept Googling indicates this is so, but note my experience in Curzon’s Soho screening suggested otherwise when there seemed a general ‘what the fuck’ sentiment as the credits rolled up. It’s not just the sheer stupidity of the story; it’s the cliché characters that tip this one over the edge. The sperm-donor dad is a suave middle-aged bachelor-lad owning a restaurant in sunny LA, sporting leather and shades and riding the loudest of motorcycles – an image obviously aimed at battering us over the head with the knowledge of a guy who thought it fun in his younger days to whack one out for cash. Don’t be fooled by the sunny posters; The Kids Are Alright tries to be bright, but in the end feels simply stupid.

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