This is turning out to be the best year in Annette Bening’s career, first she gave one of her career best performances in Mother & Child, now she nearly tops that in what is going to be one of the most talked about films of the year. Writer/director Lisa Cholodenko (Laurel Canyon) delivers her most heartfelt and widely attainable film to date. With three stellar performances, Bening, Moore and Ruffalo are all Oscar worthy performers here. The Kids are all Right never sets out to make a statement for alternative marriage that just happens to be a side effect. Cholodenko carefully presents this script as normal as possible within the given context and even at times uses predictable scenarios we have seen hundreds of time to overly comfort the audience with familiarity.

      Nic (Bening) and Jules (Moore) are working parents in LA trying to fumble their way through life’s hardships. Their two children Joni (Wasikowska) and Laser (Hutcherson) decide to search for their sperm donor and are surprised when they meet Paul (Ruffalo) who is completely on their level of cool and want him to become part of their life. Jules a struggling landscape architect goes to work for Paul much to the disapproval of Nic. Actually the overenthusiastic wine drinker Nic isn’t enthusiastic about Paul’s existence. Paul changes the dynamic of the family forever and they must learn to adapt to their new circumstances.

      The Kids Are All Right is a much more enjoyable film than Brokeback Mountain, not only because the difference between comedy and drama, but because without the male relationship in Brokeback Mountain that film would have been a run of the mill romance we see every day. This film however wouldn’t work changing that female dynamic. Cholodenko uses very clever, often perverted jokes to lighten the audience’s mood on the subject matter that she is dedicated to reverse the taboo on. Bening has one of the years funniest lines when she rejects Ruffalo’s parenting advice. Each of the three main actors are perfectly cast, and even the young actors play such an important and respectful role in the film and deliver their respective best performances.  

      After her memorable roles in Chloe and A Single Man, Moore an industry darling will certainly be recognized for her performance. She has handfuls of well played scenes, the most memorable for being the bathroom confrontation with Nic, and Moore’s facial acting and jolting emotion is stirring to watch. The film’s most obvious downfall is the predictable elements Cholodenko feeds us to make the subject matter feel normal. We can see major plot points coming a mile away and that ruins a bit of the discovery. The performances and original screenplay make up for any downfalls and this is certainly a laugh out loud film.

 Final Thought – 4+ Oscar nominations here.

Grade  B+

By: Dustin Chase W.

Editor: Jennifer Gih