EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT, THE (director/writer: Lisa Cholodenko; screenwriter: Stuart Blumberg; cinematographer: Igor Jadue-Lillo; editor: Jeffrey M. Werner; music: ; cast: (Jules), (Nic), (Paul), Mia Wasikowska (Joni), Josh Hutcherson (Laser), Eddie Hassell (Clay), Yaya DaCosta (Tanya), Zosia Mamet (Sasha), Kunal Sharma (Jai), Joaquín Garrido (Luis); Runtime: 104; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Gary Gilbert/Jeffrey Levy-Hinte/Celine Rattray/Jordan Horowitz/Daniela Taplin Lundberg/Philippe Hellmann; Focus Features; 2010)|
a lot on the table for those to ponder who might still be unsure if
same sex marriages can work."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Lisa Cholodenko ("Dinner
Party"/"High Art"/"Laurel Canyon") directs with considerable insight this
rather tame but nevertheless poignant adult sitcom dramedy about a
modern day American marriage, that never becomes too edgy though its
subject matter demands in 2010 a sharper edge than if it was released
in the 1970s. If you're looking for positives, it's intelligently
cowritten by Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg, it doesn't recklessly tear
down middle-class values, there's an honesty about each character that
shows both their flaws and strengths, and is well-acted by a talented
ensemble cast of five.
The middle-aged Nic () and Jules ()
are a contented aging bourgeois
lesbian couple living in
comfort in suburban Southern California with their quiet 15-year-old
son Laser (Josh
Hutcherson) and bright virgin
18-year-old daughter Joni (Mia
Wasikowska). They are a stable
family with middle-class values. Joni will be entering in the fall an
out-of-town college, on a
scholarship, where she will
board; while Laser, a sensitive jock type still searching for his
identity and the right friends, will try to navigate his way through
high school without a male role model.
Nic is the aggressive
breadwinner doctor, who when tipsy has a penchant for being a nag;
while the passive Jules has put her career ambitions on hold at Nic's
insistence and has stayed home but is now starting a landscape business
with the reluctant support from her mate.
Since Laser is curious about
their biological sperm donor father, Joni tracks the man who deserves
the credit for bringing both siblings into the world and arranges over
their summer vacation for the siblings to meet their agreeable dad.
Paul () is a 37-year-old
motorcycle riding laid-back bachelor, who owns a successful local
restaurant and is in a non-committal sexual relationship with a hottie
black chick (Yaya DaCosta) who works in his restaurant. Paul is
curious about the kids and interested to see if they have his traits.
The amiable free-spirited Paul bonds with the kids, who think he's
cool. Soon Paul is drawn into the intimacy of their family life, and
observes how controlling the demanding perfectionist Nic can be and how
appealing Jules can be, as he gets close to her when he hires her to
landscape his house.
A well-realized awkward
situation develops as the thoughtful work, in both a funny and serious
way, shows how the entrance of Paul into their lives changes the family
dynamics. Cholodenko brings up
a few ticklish situations and lets the players work things out from
their own perspectives. The Kid Are All Right shows in an entertaining
way that a family is a family, no matter the gender of the parents, and
that kids raised in a so-called unconventional home have just as much
chance to grow-up all right as those raised in a conventional house;
that is, if they get love and support. The sound message conveyed in
this well-meaning film, seemingly beaming with good vibes for followers
of Joni Mitchell, the popular folk singer of the 1970s the couple's
bright-eyed daughter was named for, leaves a lot on the table for those
to ponder who might still be unsure if same sex marriages can work.
Others might just view the pic as a strong family drama, bound to be a
classic, that might be more topical, meaningful and twisty than most
other family dramas released as a summer movie.
REVIEWED ON 8/7/2010 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ